Christian Living

Beltway Buzz

Obama Admin. Finalizes Birth Control Mandate

On the same day a federal appeals court delivered a blow to the Obama Administration's HHS birth control mandate, the administration issued its final regulations regarding the law and religious organization.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that craft chain Hobby Lobby and sister Christian book company Mardel can not only sue the government to keep from having to abide by the HHS mandate, but they'll probably win.

Hobby Lobby, owned by a Christian family, has filed suit to keep from being forced by the government to provide abortifacients like the 'morning after pill' to their employees under the company's health insurance plan.

"Hobby Lobby and Mardel have drawn a line at providing coverage for drugs or devices they consider to induce abortions, and it is not for us to question whether the line is reasonable," the judges wrote. "The question here is not whether the reasonable observers would consider the plaintiffs complicit in an immoral act, but rather how the plaintiffs themselves measure their degree of complicity."

An appeals court said Thursday that Hobby Lobby and a sister company that sells Christian books and supplies can fight the nation's new health care law on religious grounds, ruling the portion of the law that requires them to offer certain kinds of birth control to their employees is particularly onerous, and suggesting the companies shouldn't have to pay millions of dollars in fines while their claims are considered.

The judges unanimously sent the case back to a lower court in Oklahoma, which had rejected the companies' request for an injunction to prevent full enforcement of the new law.

Meanwhile, today's final rule from HHS efforts to clarify the definition of "religious employer." These employers, primarily houses of worship, may exclude contraceptive coverage from their health plans for their employees and their dependents. The final rules also lay out the accommodation for other non-profit religious organizations - such as non-profit religious hospitals and institutions of higher education - that object to contraceptive coverage.

Under the accommodation these organizations will not have to contract, arrange, pay for, or refer contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds, but such coverage is separately provided to women enrolled in their health plans at no cost.

The final Hobby Lobby decision to be continued....