Federal district court Judge Jean Hamilton has ruled that Missouri State Senator Paul Wieland cannot be legally forced to purchase an Obamacare group health insurance plan that covers abortifacient contraception.
Wieland and his family first sued to opt out of Obamacare in 2013, citing religious objections to being forced to support abortions. The Obama Justice Department claimed that the Roman Catholic family did not suffer a substantial burden, but Hamilton rejected that argument.
“The ultimate impact is that plaintiffs must either maintain a health insurance plan that includes contraceptive coverage, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs,” she said, “or they can forgo healthcare altogether, which will result in the imposition of significant penalties (not to mention the potentially crippling costs of uninsured health care).”
It remains to be seen whether the Justice Department will appeal the ruling, but the Thomas More Society is hailing it as a significant victory with positive implications for the fate of the contraception mandate.
“In 2014’s Hobby Lobby decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that privately owned businesses whose owners assert conscientious objections based on sincerely held religious beliefs may not be coerced to comply with the Obamacare mandate,” Thomas More Society President and Chief Counsel Thomas Brejcha noted, going on to explain that this case was significant as the first instance of a court “now vest[ing] that same right of religious liberty in individuals and families across America.”