The high court ruled in June 2014 that the Obama administration had gone too far in requiring most employers to cover birth control in insurance plans with no out-of-pocket costs as part of the federal health law, because the administration hadn’t done enough to accommodate the religious beliefs of the owners of for-profit companies who believe certain kinds of contraception to be immoral.
The decision by the USA 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds a lower court decision in favor of the two schools, which sued the federal government over the mandate from the Obama administration.
Heartland Christian College and addiction services non-profit CNS worldwide Ministries Inc, both based in Missouri, and Dordt College and Cornerstone University, both in Iowa, filed the lawsuits before the 8th Circuit.
Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, faced federal fines for noncompliance.
“They contend that the government is coercing them to violate their religious beliefs by threatening to impose severe monetary penalties unless they either directly provide coverage for objectionable contraceptives through their group health plans or indirectly provide, trigger, and facilitate that objectionable coverage through the accommodation process”.
Opponents of a compromise arrangement for providing birth-control coverage to workers at religiously affiliated employers won their first major federal-appeals-court victory Thursday, increasing the chance the contentious issue could find its way back to the Supreme Court. A religious organization can get an accommodation that allows for employees to still get birth control coverage, but these organizations don’t have to pay for it. Instead, the government picks up the tab. “As the Supreme Court has held on at least four occasions, the Obamacare contraception mandate is wrong to do just that”.
“As all of the other seven US courts of appeals to address this issue have held, the contraceptive accommodation process strikes the proper balance between ensuring women have equal access to health care and protecting religious beliefs”, that statement read.
“That latter argument, if accepted, would make women’s access to contraceptive coverage dependent upon the religious beliefs of their employers”.
“The government keeps telling the Supreme Court “Move along, nothing important here” in hopes that the court will ignore this crucial issue”. Moral complicity is up to the nonprofit, not judges, the court said.
Several faith-based nonprofits have asked the justices to take up their case in the coming term. “The 8th circuit was right to uphold the district court’s order and block enforcement of this unconstitutional mandate”.
The Obama administration now has the option of asking the full Eighth Circuit to rehear the cases en banc or to go, now or later, to the Supreme Court.
Earlier, the Justice Department had called the lawsuit meritless and an attempt to prevent female workers from obtaining insurance coverage.
Although the government has argued repeatedly that those two methods take the entities themselves out of the equation, the Eighth Circuit disagreed.