[Eleven] evangelical organizations joined by invitation in a brief filed by Christian Legal Society (CLS) in support of the colleges' appeal on religious liberty grounds to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. The lawsuits seek the overturn of a rule by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that includes -- in coverage paid for by employers -- drugs defined by the Food and Drug Administration as contraceptives, even if they can cause abortions. Among such drugs are Plan B and other "morning-after" pills, which can prevent implantation of tiny embryos, and "ella," which -- in a similar fashion to the abortion drug RU 486 -- can act even after implantation to end the life of the child.
Though the 2010 health care law says it is not to affect conscience protections regarding the performance of or funding for abortion, the HHS mandate "tramples religious employers' conscience rights and thereby discredits the time-honored commitment to respect religious conscience rights in the health care context," the brief says.
[Organizations] signing onto the CLS brief included the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Christian Medical Association, Prison Fellowship, National Association of Evangelicals, Patrick Henry College, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Association of Christian Schools International and Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.
CMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: "The Christian Medical Association has participated in 34 court cases to vie for principles our members value. This latest brief counters the administration's efforts to limit the scope of religious freedom by narrowing the definition of which organizations are 'religious enough' to qualify for exemption from the new health law's contraceptives and sterilization mandate. The mandate forces U.S. employers to have included in their health insurance plans a new requirement under Obamacare to provide 'free' contraceptives and sterilization surgeries to anyone on demand.
"Our legal brief asserts:
'The mandate’s inadequate definition of 'religious employer' departs sharply from the nation’s historic bipartisan tradition that protects religious liberty, particularly in the context of abortion funding. Exemptions for religious objectors run deep in American tradition. Exemptions for religious conscience have been a bipartisan tradition in the health care context for four decades. The mandate’s definition is so narrow that many religious congregations may fail to qualify as a 'religious employer.' The mandate’s 'religious employer' definition certainly does not cover most religious ministries that serve as society’s safety net for the most vulnerable.'"Other examples of assaults on religious liberty and conscience rights include the gutting of the only federal conscience regulation in health care, the denial of federal grant funds to a ministry simply for opposing abortions and the administration's court action to restrict faith-based organizations' hiring rights. Unless we halt this trend of governmental restricting of religious and conscience freedoms, you will find yourself subject to increasing pressures--motivated by ideologies opposed to your beliefs--to violate your faith principles in your professional practice and ultimately in your personal life."
- Sign the petition to Stop the HHS contraceptives / sterilization mandate
- Sign the Healthcare professional petition to Congress and the President to uphold conscience rights