In a religious freedom/liberty conflict among religious
employers, employees, and students, who wins?
2012-JUL: List of lawsuits against the
2012-AUG-01: HHS mandate activated.
2012-JUL: A list of lawsuits as published by The Becket Fund:
Every one of the 180 Catholic bishops who head a diocese in the U.S. has issued a statement condemning the HHS mandate. In addition, many dioceses have filed lawsuits against the mandate.
By the end of 2012-JUL, most of the lawsuits filed were by hospitals, universities, colleges, agencies or other organizations affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the lawsuits by Dioceses and Archdioceses include additional plaintiffs like :
- Archdiocese of New York et al.
- Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO
- Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, FL
- Belmont Abbey College
- Catholic University of America, et al.
- Diocese of Dallas, TX.
- Diocese of Erie, PA,et al.
- Diocese of Fort Wayne, IN, et al.
- Diocese of Jackson, MS, et al.
- Diocese of Joliet, IL, et al.
- Diocese of Pittsburgh, PA,et al.
- Diocese of Springfield, IL.
- EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network)
- Legatus (Catholic business association)
- Michigan Catholic Conference et al.
- Priests for Life, Staten Island, NY
- University of Notre Dame
Some non-Catholic institutions have also filed lawsuits or planned to do so:
- Colorado Christian University (nondenominational)
- Geneva College, PA (Reformed Presbyterian)
- Louisiana College (Baptist)
Some states have filed lawsuits:
Some individuals and secular companies:
- O'Brien Industrial Holdings
- Hercules Industries Inc. 7,8
Other lawsuits were filed later, making a total of over 200 plaintiffs.
However, the most important lawsuit was filed by the family that owns Hobby Lobby, a chain of hobby and craft stores across the U.S. That lawsuit made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
2012-AUG-01: HHS Mandate goes into effect:
The mandate, benefits employees and college students who have a health plan. For the first time, they have the religious and ethical freedom to choose to obtain birth control and emergency contraceptives (EC) without copays. This will result in a rapid drop in the number of unwanted pregnancies of which many are terminated by abortions. It will reduce the life discruptions and the emotional, physical and finanacial disadvantages caused by those pregancies and abortions. It will allow them to plan the timing of their pregnancies so that they can plan their families as they wish.
Unfortunately, not everyone was happy with the mandate. That is because it is an "asymmertical sum game." That is:
- One group, composed of tens of millions of employees and students, benefit from the HHS mandate by having the freedom to freely choose birth control, including emergency contraceptives.
- A much smaller number number of employers and school administrators are required to be involved in health insurance plans that provide contraceptives without copays. They must give up the ability to veto their employees' and students' choices.
Fox News described the event in negative terms from the standpoint of some religious employers and educational administrators:
"This day — August 1 — is a dark one for religious freedom in the United States. The Obama administration’s requirement that all insurance plans cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs — the HHS mandate — goes into effect today. This requirement is now binding on countless employers who have religious and moral objections to providing such insurance. This is not a dispute about contraception or abortion, but about our constitutional order: All Americans, regardless of whether they share those objections, should protest the Obama administration’s willful assault on religious liberty." 9
In our opinion, there are two items that are important to keep in mind:
- Research studies have established that the emergency contraceptives (EC) mandated by the HHS are true contraceptives. They delay ovulation, and inhibit conception. But once conception has happened, it has no effect on implantation of the blastocyst in the lining of the uterus.
- Most religious conservatives reject these findings and feel that EC may prevent implantation. Some beleve that EC always prevents implantaton, and thus -- according to their definintions of conception, pregnancy, and human personhood -- cause an abortion and kill a baby.
This essay is currently being expanded with information
on lawsuits in the federal court system over the HHS mandate.
How you may have arrived here:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "USCCB: HHS Mandate for Contraceptive and Abortifacient Drugs Violates Conscience Rights," United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011-AUG-01, at: http://www.usccb.org/
- Answers to frequently asked questions about how emergency contraception works," Princeton University, 2014-MAR-13, at: http://ec.princeton.edu/
- Bill Summary & Status. H.R. 1179, Library of Congress, last updated on 2011-MAR-28, at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
- Bill Summary & Status. H.R. 940, Library of Congress, last updated on 2014-MAR-12, at: http://thomas.loc.gov/
- Steven Erlelt, "Obama Admin Told to Rescind Pro-Abortion HHS Mandate," LifeNews.com, 2012-JUN-18, at: http://www.lifenews.com/
- Monifa Thomas, "Wheaton College joins suit opposing contraception mandate," Chicago Sun Times, 2012-JUL-18, at: http://www.suntimes.com/
- "HHS Mandate Information Central," The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, as it existed on 2012-JUL-25, at: http://www.becketfund.org/
- Thomas Peters, "51 Catholic (+16 Religious) Institutions Opposing Obama/HHS Mandate," Catholic Vote, at: http://www.catholicvote.org/ (no longer online)
- "The HHS Mandate goes into effect," Fox News, 2012-AUG-01. at: http://www.nationalreview.com/
Copyright © 2012 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-JUL-08
Latest update: 2014-JUL-15
Author: B.A. Robinson