Barack Obama’s advisers may be saying that he won’t make any more changes in his Obamacare provision requiring contraception to be covered by health insurance policies – but what actually happens may depend on the outcome of a federal court lawsuit that targets the mandate.
The legal challenge to Obama’s plans was filed by the American Freedom Law Center, the AFLC, on behalf of Priests for Life, a national, Catholic pro-life organization based in New York.
Obama’s original plan was that all employers, including those that have religious foundations such as church hospitals, be required to pay for contraceptive coverages, including Plan B and others that many Christians believe cause abortion.
Faced with surging opposition from religious groups and leaders, Obama changed his description, saying that the insurance companies would be forced to provide the items at no cost, and the religious organizations wouldn’t have to pay for them.
Many religious leaders have rejected that idea as no more than a play on words.
Now, the AFLC, along with co-counsel and civil rights attorney Charles Limandri, have taken the next step.
They’ve filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York a lawsuit challenging Obama’s contraception demands.
“The Obama administration has declared war on the Bill of Rights, and in particular, it has declared war on religious freedom. In his zeal to placate his secular base on the far left, Obama has trashed the Constitution and has unwittingly united people of faith,” said Robert Muise, co-founder of the AFLC.
As alleged in the complaint, Obama’s “contraceptive” mandate “violates Priests for
Life’s rights to the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.”
The mandate also requires employers to provide coverage for sterilization, abortifacients and related education and counseling or incur substantial penalty fines. This mandate directly conflicts with the deeply held religious beliefs of Priests for Life, the case explains.
Moreover, by requiring Priests for Life to provide education and counseling regarding contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and abortifacients, the mandate also compels Priests for Life to engage in speech that violates its sincerely held religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment, the case explains.
Specifically, in line with Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, the organization believes that “any action” that interferes with natural human reproduction, including contraception, is a “grave sin.”
The complaint asks the federal court to declare that the “contraceptive” mandate is
unconstitutional and to permanently enjoin its enforcement.
AFLC co-founder David Yerushalmi said, “As an orthodox Jew who objects to this mandate on religious and constitutional grounds, I can say with confidence that observant Jews are as opposed to Obama’s assault on religious freedom as are those in the Christian communities across the country. In this battle, we all stand as one, shoulder to shoulder, against the Obama administration’s latest assault. America was founded on religious freedom. AFLC is committed to stopping Obama’s war on this fundamental liberty founded in our Judeo-Christian traditions.”
The defendants are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the pro-abortion former Kansas governor; the agency itself, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and her agency, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his agency.
“Priests for Life asserts that provisions of the regulations …. violate Priests for Life’s rights to the free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”
The case points out that Obama already has granted more than 1,000 waivers to the law, so it is not being applied equally. It also alleges that Obama consulted with a number of pro-abortion organizations – but no religious groups or other groups that oppose government-mandated coverage of abortion – in setting up the requirements.
“Priests for Life also holds and actively professes religious beliefs that include traditional Christian teaching on the sanctity of life,” the complaint says. “It believes and teaches that each human being bears the image and likeness of God, and therefore all human life is sacred and precious from the moment of conception.
“Consequently, Priests for Life believes and teachers that abortion ends a human life and is a grave sin.”
And as such, “Priests for Life does not believe that contraception, sterilization or abortion are properly understood to constitute medicine, health care, or a means of providing for the well-being of persons.”