Good news! A second court ruling showed skepticism that the Obama administration intends to enact a meaningful “accommodation” of the conscience rights of non-profit groups battling the HHS insurance mandate.
A Washington, D.C. circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower courts and ruled Tuesday that the lawsuit of two plaintiffs– evangelical Wheaton College and Catholic Belmont Abbey College— will not be dismissed.
HHS has denied the colleges exemptions from the mandate that health insurance provide free abortion-causing drugs and sterilization. And although the Obama administration had previously announced plans to create a new rule, or accommodation, it has not yet taken the steps necessary to make that promise legally binding.
The Court of Appeals decided the colleges’ cases should stay alive while it scrutinizes whether the government will meet its promised deadlines. In fact, it ordered that HHS must appear in court every 60 days until its promised accommodation has become part of the official Obamacare “preventative services” regulatory regime!
Over 100 individuals, schools and businesses have sued the HHS mandate. Just last week, a New York district judge resisted the Obama attorneys’ claim that the grounds for these religious liberty lawsuits will soon disappear once the accommodation is made. District Judge Brian Cogan didn’t buy that logic; he allowed the Catholic Archdiocese of New York lawsuit to go forward, saying,
“There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”
Of course no serious person believes that any promised tweaking of the mandate can eliminate its essential undermining of religious freedom. The mandate flies in the face of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires that only a ‘compelling’ governmental interest has any potential to infringe on religious exercise, and then only if carried out in the least intrusive way.
The Obama administration attorneys have only a liberalizing-abortion agenda, and no true compelling interest, for forcing free coverage of morally offensive “preventive” services. They have offered ridiculous justifications for not granting exemptions, including:
- a person loses religious liberty rights once they run a business;
- religion is limited to worship inside a building and serving only those who believe as you do.
KANSAS CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS
Kansas lawmakers have secured important conscience protection for:
- private employers;
- medical personnel and facilities.
In 2011, Kansas passed pro-active legislation forbidding the establishment of elective abortion coverage in any anticipated state health insurance “exchange’ (a kind of marketplace for policies). Eighteen other states have passed similar bans.
Also that year, Kansas lawmakers passed a measure to protect employers’ right to refuse to cover any abortions (other than those to save the mother’s life) in their company health plans. Under this law, employees can buy a special, separate “rider” policy for elective abortions. This law is similar to ones other states have had for decades which have been upheld in court. The Kansas law is in effect but the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has sued, and the matter is headed for trial next year.
Under the 2012 Kansas Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act, health professionals cannot be fired, and medical facilities cannot be sued, for not performing abortions, or for not providing referrals for them. Conscience decisions on sterilizations and abortion-causing drugs are also protected.
Kansas has established significant laws to protect life and conscience, but the push to normalize abortion and restrict religious liberty continues.