Federal Judge Rules Against Contraceptive Mandate

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We’re at a strange turning point in American culture, exemplified by the growing debate over Obamacare. Not only are many Americans worried that the president’s attempt to federalize medicine will demolish the economy, but there are also intense and rightful fears about what it may do to religious freedom.

The latter concern is the focus of the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, which has just won a significant ruling against Obamacare’s contraception mandate. A Florida federal judge ruled Tuesday that the latest revisions to the mandate do not sufficiently protect people whose religious beliefs forbid the use of certain contraceptives. As the requirement stands now, employers must pay for birth control drugs as part of their insurance packages, even if those drugs cause chemical abortion.

It’s “time for government to stop going after religious colleges and ministries and start respecting religious liberty,” said Eric Baxter, the senior lawyer for the Becket Fund. The win in Florida came courtesy of a lawsuit brought by Ave Maria University, which was facing millions of dollars in fines for violating the Obamacare requirement. It is only a preliminary injunction, however; a final ruling on the case may take months.

One of the most significant rulings in the area has come from the Supreme Court, when they decided this summer that a “closely held” for-profit business could opt out of the contraception requirement if it conflicted with their religious beliefs. Though it provided a hint to the direction of future litigation, the ruling was too narrow to effect widespread change.

Skyrocketing Premiums

The Florida ruling was not the only bit of bad news for Obamacare this week. A newly released study shows that average premium costs have gone through the roof in the age of the Affordable Care Act. Before factoring in federal subsidies – some of which may be deemed unconstitutional – premiums have risen more than 78% for certain key demographics.

But as troubling as those numbers are, they pale in comparison to the thousands of faith-based (and faith-strengthened) organizations being forced to violate their beliefs. The matter of contraceptives and abortion isn’t comparable to, say, eating pork or wearing clothes of mixed material. To many Christians, it is the most important issue facing our country today.

Even if you don’t personally believe that abortion is wrong – or that abortifacient contraceptives are just as bad – you have to understand where they’re coming from. This isn’t about a minor religious tenet. To these business owners, it’s about supporting legalized murder, plain and simple.

Judges across the country continue to make wise rulings despite considerable liberal opposition, but we can’t simply count on the judicial process to make things right. Republicans need to make this a touchstone issue in the next year, even if they’ve decided to abandon the fight against the law as a whole. While they’re at it, they should start taking a close look at the bakers, ministers, T-shirt makers, and wedding chapel owners being prosecuted for “discriminating” against gay marriage. Favoring one form of discrimination over another is not the path to civil progress.