The Trump administration has resolved a dispute over Obamacare’s abortion mandate that the previous administration refused to address even though U.S. courts ordered it to be fixed.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that the federal government could not force a for-profit business to subsidize abortion in health-care insurance plans in violation of the owners’ religious beliefs.
Later, the court ruled in the Little Sisters of the Poor case that faith-based nonprofit ministries are exempt.
The Supreme Court, pointed out First Liberty Institute, ordered the cases returned to lower courts where the Obama administration should “seek to accommodate the ministries.”
Instead of responding to the court, the Obama administration, in some cases, ignored the instructions.
And that left Insight for Living Ministries — the international Bible-teaching ministry of Pastor Charles R. Swindoll, the chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary and founder of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas — on the hook.
Likewise for the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a denomination serving half-a-million Americans.
“The Obama administration left office without providing any relief for organizations like IFLM and CMA,” said First Liberty.
“The last three years of litigation could have been avoided entirely if the Obama administration had simply recognized that the First Amendment protects the rights conscience of these religious ministries against an administration intent on coercing their obedience. We are grateful that the Trump administration has agreed to end this unnecessary and harmful assault on religious liberty,” the non-profit legal organization said.
The resolution came after First Liberty contacted the Office of Management and Budget, under the new Trump administration, to meet. Shortly after, the Trump administration “brought to a swift conclusion” to the “threat to the conscience of millions of Americans.”
On Oct. 6, First Liberty said, the Trump administration “recognized the burden the mandate placed upon the religious beliefs and moral convictions and announced a new interim final rule for implementation of the ACA, exempting IFLM and other nonprofit organizations from the contraceptive mandate.”
“Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Department of Justice settled its cases with IFLM and CMA, ending three years of litigation,” First Liberty said.
“Our clients can now get back to serving others instead of defending themselves against the government’s attacks on their faith,” said Jeremy Dys, deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute.
“The Trump administration is right to let this be a decision between these ministries and the God they serve, rather than impose the government’s beliefs on these ministries. The last three years of litigation could have been avoided entirely if the Obama administration had simply recognized that the First Amendment protects the rights conscience of these religious ministries against an administration intent on coercing their obedience. We are grateful that the Trump administration has agreed to end this unnecessary and harmful assault on religious liberty.”
The Obama administration had left the Christian groups in a no-win situation.
“The federal government put IFLM and CMA in a position where they had to choose between obeying the law and standing by their religious convictions in the face of steep monetary penalties,” the institute said.
“The sincerely held religious beliefs of both IFLM and CMA prevent their ministries from participating in any way in the destruction of an unborn human life, including facilitating the provision of abortion-inducing drugs and devices,” it explained.
But Obamacare required employers to give employees coverage for contraceptives, including those that specifically cause abortion, such as Plan B.
The Trump administration has been working, so far without success in a sharply divided Congress, to repeal and replace Obamacare with a workable solution, since that law’s provisions appear to be failing.