The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it will, essentially, defy the Supreme Court and continue to attempt to force religious organizations to provide abortifacient contraceptives to their employees.
The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty reports today that the HHS defiance follows repeated losses from the high court, “including last year’s Hobby Lobby decision and Court decisions regarding the Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College. In fact, just last week the Supreme Court ordered the government not to enforce this rule against Catholic organizations from Pennsylvania, marking the government’s sixth loss in a row at the Supreme Court regarding the mandate. There are now four petitions before the Supreme Court asking the Court to finally resolve the issue by June 2016.”
But that does not deter the HHS, which issued a rule today, that circumvents the ruling. The Huffington Post reports:
“The Obama administration on Friday issued its final rules for employers who morally object to covering birth control in their health insurance plans. The accommodation ensures that all employed women, unless they work for a place of worship, will still have their birth control covered at no cost to them, even if their employers refuse to cover it.”
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said, “Women across the country should have access to preventive services, including contraception. At the same time, we recognize the deeply held views on these issues, and we are committed to securing women’s access to important preventive services at no additional cost under the Affordable Care Act, while respecting religious beliefs.”
But they don’t actually respect those beliefs, evidenced in the loophole the HHS has created. As the Huffington Post says:
“Under the new rule, a closely held for-profit company that objects to covering contraception in its health plan can write a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services stating its objection. HHS will then notify a third-party insurer of the company’s objection, and the insurer will provide birth control coverage to the company’s female employees at no additional cost to the company.”
Of course, nothing is free. Someone is paying for more abortifacients, which violates the religious freedom of faith-based organizations that oppose abortifacient drugs, yet whose employees now have it because the Obama administration will not comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. Thus,the bottom line is that the government is defying the Supreme Court by finding a way around its rulings so employees of organizations, such as Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns, are forced to pay for abortifacient drugs.
Adèle Auxier Keim, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, is troubled by this defiance:
“The government keeps digging the hole deeper. Just last week the Supreme Court ordered HHS not to enforce the exact rules they finalized today. But the government still won’t give up on its quest to force nuns and other religious employers to distribute contraceptives.”
The government seems to have a difficult time comprehending that religious freedom is not simply about money, though that’s a part; there is religious principle involved which is now being violated by this rule. The United States, founded upon the freedom to escape religious oppression, is the last place that should be forcing a group of nuns, among others, to distribute contraceptives— let alone ones that act as abortifacients.
Keim adds: “The government has already told thousands of businesses that they don’t need to comply with the HHS Mandate at all. So why is it continuing to go out of its way to force religious objectors, from nuns to business owners, to do something it is more than capable of doing itself?”
The troubling answer to Keim’s question is that the government is more concerned with an abortion agenda and full control than it is the very freedoms upon which this nation was founded. If it will defy the highest court in the land by devising workarounds when it doesn’t like its decision, then what will this pro-abortion administration do next?