ObamaCare Litigation and the Christian’s Conscience
This year, litigation proceeds about the ObamaCare requirement dealing with health insurance and abortion drugs. The mandate requires employers to provide health insurance coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization. Employers are compelled to provide these in spite of religious beliefs about abortion. Failure to comply results in fines of $100 per employee per day. The companies challenging the mandate are relying, among other things, on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which provides that a “religiously neutral law” such as ObamaCare can improperly burden and harm religion to such a degree that a plaintiff must be exempt from its application. Here are the relevant statutory provisions:
a) In generalGovernment shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) ExceptionGovernment may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—(1)is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and(2)is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.
Domino’s Farm Corporation recently won a victory in federal district court when a judge granted an injunction. This means that the fines are not accruing for the company while it is involved in the litigation. The Domino’s Farm complaint can be found here.
However, Hobby Lobby, which has a similar suit, was denied an injunction. Even in the face of millions in fines per day, Hobby Lobby is proceeding with litigation and sticking to its guns on the mandate. Hobby Lobby will continue to provide health insurance for employees, but it refuses to pay for the morning-after pill and the week-after pill. Hobby Lobby’s formal complaint can be found here. As for the mandate, Hobby Lobby’s CEO states:
These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith, and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families. We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate. ... By being required to make a choice between sacrificing our faith or paying millions of dollars in fines, we essentially must choose which poison pill to swallow.
This could be some of the most important litigation of 2013. Failure to win in the courts will cause these businesses to compromise values or close their doors and put thousands of Americans out of work. We’ll pay close attention to the litigation as it progresses.