Religious organizations challenging the PPACA’s contraception mandate have lost their latest battle against the Act’s “religious accommodation.”
Last week the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw out a series of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the accommodation on multiple grounds. These organizations have argued that the accommodation does not provide adequate protections to religious freedom because an organization’s request actually “triggers” a provision that activates substitute coverage:
The contraceptive coverage opt-out mechanism substantially burdens Plaintiffs’ religious exercise, Plaintiffs contend, by failing to extricate them from providing, paying for, or facilitating access to contraception. In particular, they assert that the notice they submit in requesting accommodation is a “trigger” that activates substitute coverage, and that the government will “hijack” their health plans and use them as “conduits” for providing contraceptive coverage to their employees and students. Plaintiffs dispute that the government has any compelling interest in obliging them to give notice of their wish to take advantage of the accommodation. And they argue that the government has failed to show that the notice requirement is the least restrictive means of serving any such interest.
The Court, however, was not convinced:
All Plaintiffs must do to opt out is express what they believe and seek what they want via a letter or two-page form. That bit of paperwork is more straightforward and minimal than many that are staples of nonprofit organizations’ compliance with law in the modern administrative state. Religious nonprofits that opt out are excused from playing any role in the provision of contraception services, and they remain free to condemn contraception in the clearest terms.
The plaintiffs to the case are fighting back. “The court is wrong and we will not obey the mandate,” Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, one of the plaintiffs, said in an e-mailed statement.
You can read the full opinion here.DONATE
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