When Barack Obama was touting his Obamacare takeover of health-care decision-making he told citizens if they liked their health care, they could keep it.
But he didn't say how long.
Now, federal attorneys arguing in a Michigan case on behalf of the health-care program's mandate that employers, regardless of their religious faith, must provide contraceptive, including abortifacient, services to employees, have an answer.
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"The grandfathering of certain health plans with respect to certain provisions of [Obamacare] is not limited to the preventive services coverage regulations," they wrote in opposition to a request for a preliminary injunction against enforcement.
"In fact, the effect of grandfathering is not a permanent 'exemption,' but rather, over the long term, a transition in the marketplace with respect to several provisions of [Obamacare], including the preventive services coverage provision."
The attorneys told the judge hearing that case: "The incremental transition of the marketplace into the [Obamacare] administrative scheme does not call into question the compelling interests furthered by the preventive services coverage regulations. Even under grandfather, it is projected that more group health plans will transition to the requirements under the regulations as time goes on.
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"The government estimates that, as a practical matter, a majority of group health plans will lose their grandfather status by 2013," wrote the federal attorneys listed on the pleading. They are Stuart F. Delery, Barbara L. McQaude, Sheila M. Lieber, Michelle Bennett and Ethan P. Davis, who have various titles with the Department of Justice.
When Obama was promoting his plan, which has proved to be one of the largest tax increases ever, he said: "If you like your current insurance, you will keep your current insurance. No government takeover. Nobody's changing what you've got if you're happy with it."
At that time, the argument was over the fact that Obama was exempting labor union health care programs and other allies from the federal requirements.
Obamacare includes certain other exemptions, such as for "certain religious employers authorized by an amendment to the interim final regulations."
The federal attorneys said the "religious employer exemption" allows the Obamacare to "accommodate religion, not to burden or disapprove of it."
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See Obama's claim:
The Michigan case is being pursued by the Thomas More Law Center. Legatus, the nation's largest organization of top Catholic business leaders, Weingartz Supply Co and its president are suing to overturn the regulation that requires employers to provide contraceptive services, including abortifacients, to employees, even though it might violate the employers' religious faith.
The government has agreed not to enforce the requirement while the court cases are developing, and the plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction. The Legatus-Weingartz case is just one of dozens over the mandate that pro-life Christians find abhorrent.
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Dozens of members of Congress have signed up to back a challenge to Obamacare's mandate that employers provide abortifacients to employees under their health-care programs.
That requirement has been imposed even on employers whose religious faith forbids their participation in the deaths of unborn infants.
The American Center for Law and Justice is representing 79 members of Congress with friend-of-the-court briefs filed in 12 separate lawsuits brought by more than 40 Catholic organizations suing over the requirement.
The plaintiffs in the cases include the Archdiocese of New York, the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
According to lawyers handling the friend-of-the-court briefs, the cases challenge the Obama administration's demand that employers cover sterilization, prescription contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and related patient education and counseling services in their health insurance plans.
Edward White, senior counsel for activist legal team, said: "It is essential to defeat the HHS mandate. The mandate devastates the religious freedom of all employers seeking to comply with their religious beliefs."
He continued: "This is not just an issue negatively impacting Catholics. This is an issue negatively impacting employers of all faiths."
In the briefs submitted in the cases backing the Catholic organizations, the ACLJ opposes the federal government's motions to dismiss the 12 lawsuits. The briefs were submitted with a request that the courts accept them for filing.
The briefs explain the mandate runs counter to America's long and proud tradition of accommodating the religious beliefs and practices of all its citizens. The briefs contend that the mandate imposes an unconstitutional burden on individuals and organizations, who firmly oppose having to subsidize, provide and/or facilitate activities and services that are contrary to their religious beliefs.
Leaders of a number of religious-advocacy groups are warning of the Obamacare contraception mandate's consequences for business owners of faith:
- Larry Cirignano, president of Faithful Catholic Citizens: "Give up your religion or go bankrupt. This is not a mandate; it is an ultimatum. Buy insurance and kill babies or go bankrupt fighting us. Not all of us can afford lawyers to fight this 'mandate.'"
- Matt Smith, president of Catholic Advocate: "Aug. 1 will be remembered as the day our most cherished liberty was thrown in a government dumpster and hauled away. A day when family owned small businesses were forced to abandon their religious beliefs to provide products and services for free. And if they don't, they will be taxed and fined at a time when job creators are struggling with enough costs and bureaucratic red-tape at every level of government just to stay in business. While the courts have provided a reprieve for one family business in Colorado, the government will never be able to repair the broken conscience of thousands of others until this mandate is removed."
- Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica: "August 1st is a day that will live in infamy for the First Amendment and the fundamental freedoms and rights we as a people have enjoyed since the founding of our nation. The HHS mandate imposed on the American people is the beginning of the end of freedom as America has known it and loved it. August 1st marks the day when many family owned and operated businesses lose their rights to exercise their faith in their daily lives. The government has told them – either comply with this mandate in violation of your faith and do what we tell you, or you will pay crippling faith fines to the federal government. With the stroke of a pen, the Obama administration has shredded the First Amendment and the Constitution right before our eyes."
- Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute: "The Obama administration's assault on religious liberty is taking root … Failure to comply with the mandate will result in penalties that could cost business millions of dollars. The administration clearly did not reach a much-vaunted 'accommodation' with business owners who strongly oppose the mandate and believe it is a clear violation of their constitutional protection of religious liberty. The HHS mandate forces business owners to choose between following their religious beliefs or obedience to the federal government. The Obama administration clearly believes the government is supreme and that individuals and businesses must bow to its dictates or suffer severe consequences. We know that Obamacare is wrong for America. The HHS anti-conscience mandate is clear evidence of why the law violates the most fundamental principles upon which our country is founded."
- Gary Marx, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition: "Confidence in the system and hope for religious liberty was mildly restored when a federal district judge issued a temporary injunction blocking Barack Obama's health-care mandate from compelling a business to provide insurance coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs. This is certainly a victory, but the fact that it only applies to one company means the federal government is still going to force millions of Americans to choose between having health insurance or their conscience and faith. With an administration intent on suppressing religious liberty, we can expect a historic turnout of voters of faith show up in November."
- Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America: "The only solution that has been provided to the majority of Americans is to stand up and fight for their religious rights by refusing to comply or battling in court. ... We must remember the wise words of Thomas Jefferson, 'All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.' To force religious groups to deny their deeply held convictions is not called balance; it is called tyranny."
- Jeanne Monahan, director of the Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity: "Today as a result of this initial implementation of the HHS mandate, the relationship between the separation of church and state is critically changed. Americans can no longer follow their consciences or religious dictates on issues as critical as abortion-inducing drugs. Organizations such as Wheaton College, or businesses such as Weingartz Supply of Ann Arbor, Mich.,will be forced to violate their consciences. On this sad day Americans have no 'choice' in this matter."
- David Stevens, a physician and the CEO of the Christian Medical Association: "What will stop this administration, with its radical pro-abortion agenda, from further undermining conscience rights and pursuing policies that effectively force out of medicine physicians with life-honoring convictions? Who will keep government panels from effectively denying physicians and patients choice about what are the most effective and appropriate medicines, surgeries and treatments? We call on Congress to turn back this law's assault on our freedoms and restore American values and constitutional principles in health care."
- Paul E. Rondeau, executive director of American Life League: "History tragically teaches us that if our government can abolish one constitutional right, then all constitutional rights are put in jeopardy. This path sets a dangerous and foolish precedent that First Amendments rights such as freedom of speech, association, freedom of the press and the rights to assemble and petition the government may be just as easily curtailed in the future. We call on all citizens to tell their elected representatives that this erosion of rights must not stand."
- Kristin Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America: "Today marks the beginning of the end of religious and conscience rights in America. As an employer, I am forced to make a false choice between providing a vital service to my employees and violating my conscience and values. The abortion-pill mandate is an egregious attack upon my rights, as well as the rights of all people of values and faith in America."