Court rules against religious groups in contraception case
    July 15 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

    The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 14 that religious employers must comply with federally mandated employee health coverage – which includes all FDA-approved contraceptive services – because the mandate does not present a substantial burden to religious exercise or violate First Amendment rights.
     
    The mandate includes an accommodation scheme for religious non-profits and closely held organizations that object to the contraception coverage. Objectors may submit a form to the Department of Health and Human Services, signing away the coverage to a third party.
     
    Churches and their auxiliaries are exempt from the mandate, while publicly held corporations have no exemptions. The case before the circuit court addressed the standing of non-profit organizations.
     
    In the 2014 Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held, for-profit entities with religious objections were exempt from providing healthcare coverage that included abortion-inducing contraception. The White House issued a revision July 10 requiring such businesses to follow the accommodation scheme provided to religious non-profits.
     
    GuideStone Financial Resources, Oklahoma Baptist University, Truett-McConnell College, a Catholic organization for women called Little Sisters of the Poor and other appellants claim the mandate – accommodation included – violates their faith by making them complicit in providing abortion-inducing drugs through healthcare plans, according to press releases.

    Harold Loftin, GuideStone’s general legal counsel, said, “GuideStone has, from the filing of our case, objected to the so-called ‘accommodation’ because it requires certain religious employers that GuideStone serves to take actions that the government intends to use to deliver abortion-inducing drugs and devices to our participants and their dependents. The evidence presented to the court showed that ‘women’ as young as age 10 will be notified of their eligibility to receive abortion-inducing drugs and devices for free by GuideStone’s third-party administrator, if the religious employer complies with the government’s demands.  … GuideStone will continue to explore and exhaust the options and legal remedies available to protect the unborn who cannot protect themselves.”
     
    Attorneys from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said they are “closely reviewing the court’s decision and will decide soon whether they must seek relief from the Supreme Court.”
     
    GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said in a press release, “This is a disappointing decision, for both religious liberty and for the sanctity of life.
     
    “This is a day for all of us to bombard the Throne of Grace with petitions for a favorable outcome on appeal, for strength of resolve, for the unborn in this country and for all of our leaders, so many of whom have turned their back on the founding principles of this country. We are working already with our legal advisors to determine our next steps. Today was a setback. It is not the final outcome.”
     
    Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of the Becket Fund and lead attorney in the case, spoke on behalf of Little Sisters: “It is a national embarrassment that the world’s most powerful government insists that, instead of providing contraceptives through its own existing exchanges and programs, it must crush the Little Sisters’ faith and force them to participate. Untold millions of people have managed to get contraceptives without involving nuns, and there is no reason the government cannot run its programs without hijacking the Little Sisters and their health plan.”

    (Updated July 16, 2:40 p.m.)

    7/15/2015 2:51:06 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: contraceptives, GuideStone, Obamacare




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