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HHS’s contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion

The Supreme court in a 5 to 4 decision rejected the government’s argument that Hobby Lobby was not covered by The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and not eligible for exemption from the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

Supreme Court in full bloom | CREDIT: Flickr Tim Sacton

Supreme Court in full bloom | CREDIT: Flickr Tim Sacton

A regulation created by Health and Human Services requires employers that provide health insurance make it mandatory for those employers to provide coverage for the 20 FDA approved contraceptives including four considered aborticides. The four prevent the fetus from attaching to the uterus. It is these four that are at the heart of this important case for religious liberty. In the courts decision they explained the broad intentions of RFRA. HHS made the following arguments; First RFRA applies to individuals, not corporations. The owners could not sue because the rule only applies to the business. Further the government argued that they could drop insurance and pay the $2,000 per employee fine and that would solve the issue. In the court’s ruling they determined that RFRA was never intended to limit the religious freedoms of the officers, owners, staff, or shareholders involved in the corporation.

It requires the Hahns and the Greens to engage in conduct that seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at conception. If they and their companies refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, they face severe economic consequences; about $475 million per year for Hobby Lobby. $1.8 Million for Conestoga, and $800,000 for Mardel.

In the Supreme Court Syllabus- The Court assumes that the interest in guaranteeing cost-free access to the four challenged contraceptive methods is a compelling governmental interest, but the government has failed to show that the contraceptive mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. In an email obtained by Eye on America the Republican National Committee released this statement.

This decision protects the religious freedom that is guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment, and we’re grateful the Court ruled on the side of liberty. The central issue of this case was whether the federal government can coerce Americans to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and thankfully the Court has upheld the proper limits on the government’s power. The fact that Americans had to bring this case in the first place reveals once again just how intrusive Obamacare is. It’s a misguided one-size-fits all policy that not only failed to fix our healthcare system but has trampled on our Constitutional rights. Americans deserve a healthcare system that allows them to make the right choices for themselves, gives them more freedom, and comes nowhere close to encroaching on our First Amendment Rights.

Senator Chuck Grassley made the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

The Supreme Court made a decision on the side of religious freedom.  The Obamacare mandate that forced closely held, family companies to pay for abortion-related contraceptive coverage contrary to their religious views was a striking overreach into the personal freedoms and liberties protected by the Constitution.  While the individual consciences of people who run these family businesses will be protected, the court also said that the government could end up providing these services, just as it did for employees of religious non-profits.

This decision has been closely followed as it made it’s way through the lower courts and came on the last day of the Supreme court’s 2013-2014 session.



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