August 21, 2014
HHS Abortion Mandate
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Hobby Lobby finds short-term way to avoid fines
OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- Hobby Lobby says it has found a way to avoid for "several months" being penalized by the federal government for not covering abortion-inducing drugs in its employee health care plans.
Hobby Lobby apparently will defy gov't on abortion mandate
OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- Arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby apparently is willing to defy the federal government and face huge fines for not covering abortion-inducing drugs following a string of court losses in December. Hobby Lobby's setbacks in court at the end of the year gained significant media attention, despite the fact that for-profit businesses like the Oklahoma-based business continue to rack up court victories against the mandate. According to a tally by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, nine for-profit businesses -- including three in late December -- have won injunctions in courts protecting them from the mandate. Only three for-profit businesses -- Hobby Lobby among them -- have failed to obtain an injunction. Hobby Lobby is the largest business to file suit against the mandate. Its new health care plan went into effect Jan. 1. "The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund, which is representing Hobby Lobby in court. "To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs." A Becket spokesman Wednesday (Jan. 2) said the law firm was not commenting further on Hobby Lobby's intentions. But if the company did choose not to cover abortion-inducing drugs mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services, it reportedly could face fines of up to $1.3 million a day. Under the mandate, businesses and even some religious organizations are required to carry employee insurance that covers contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives such as Plan B and ella that can kill an embryo after fertilization and even after implantation. Pro-lifers consider that action a chemical abortion. After a federal judge in November ruled Hobby Lobby must cover the drugs, Becket unsuccessfully appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees emergency appeals from the Tenth Circuit. Sotomayor did say the lawsuit could proceed in the lower court and be appealed back to the high court at the appropriate time. "Hobby Lobby," Duncan said, "will continue their appeal before the Tenth Circuit. The Supreme Court merely decided not to get involved in the case at this time. It left open the possibility of review after their appeal is completed in the Tenth Circuit." The Hobby Lobby suit also includes Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain. The same family -- the Greens -- owns both of them. "These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith, and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful," David Green, Hobby Lobby's founder and CEO, said in September. "... We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate."
Federal appeals court sides with 2 colleges opposing HHS abortion-contraceptive mandate
This is "a tremendous day for religious freedom and freedom of conscience."
- Richard Land
WASHINGTON (BP) -- A federal appeals court has delivered an important victory to religious nonprofit organizations that oppose the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate.
Survey: Most back contraception mandate
NASHVILLE (BP) -- The majority of adults in America believe businesses and organizations, even those with conflicting religious principles, should be required to provide coverage of contraception and birth control for their employees, according to a survey by LifeWay Research.
Appeals court rules against abortion mandate
ST. LOUIS (BP) -- For the first time a federal appeals court has issued an order against the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate.
GuideStone: health care law needs changes
DALLAS (BP) -- President Obama's re-election virtually guarantees that his signature health care reform law, passed in 2010, will continue moving toward implementation over the coming four years.
Supreme Court revives Obamacare challenge
WASHINGTON (BP) - Religious objections to the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate have gained new life after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a federal appeals judge to reconsider a Christian university's challenge to the health care law.
Judge: Hobby Lobby must cover abortion drugs
OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- A federal judge has ruled that Hobby Lobby and Mardel stores must cover abortion-causing drugs for their employees as required by the Obama administration because the companies -- despite having faith as a central element of their operations -- are not religious enough to warrant a court intervention.
Tyndale gets court win against abortion mandate
WASHINGTON (BP) -- A federal court has handed a leading Bible publisher a major victory over the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate, preventing its enforcement against the publisher and ruling the company is likely to succeed as the case proceeds.
Criswell files suit against abortion mandate
State-by-state advocacy of U.S. religious liberty launches
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Representatives from nine state legislatures have announced the formation of state-level religious freedom caucuses in a new nationwide effort to combat religious discrimination. "There is a renewed interest in religious freedom in the country, and this growing attention is bringing together people of all religious faiths and political ideologies," Tim Schultz of the American Religious Freedom Program (ARFP) said during a teleconference Oct. 9. "Freedom of religion is a right that all lawmakers, and this includes state legislators, have a role in protecting and defending. "This is not an issue just for the courts," Schultz noted. With the assistance of a bipartisan group of more than 120 lawmakers -- 16 were present for the teleconference -- ARFP plans to inaugurate religious freedom caucuses in all 50 states by the end of 2013. The current states with caucuses are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The formation of these caucuses is based on two ideas, Schultz said: 1) Religious freedom is important to the majority of Americans from all faiths, and these individuals oppose "state-sponsored injury to religion" and 2) the free exercise of religion is a constitutional right that is foundational to all freedoms and must be protected by state lawmakers. Schultz -- state policy director for the AFRP, which is an initiative of the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center -- explained how the caucuses will function: -- Even though these are the first state caucuses with a religious freedom agenda, they will work in a manner similar to other legislative caucuses. -- Each caucus will consist of lawmakers who come together to discuss various public policy issues pertaining to freedom of religion both in their state and throughout the country. -- There will be a multi-state information-sharing component to connect the caucuses across the country. This will help build legislative expertise beyond that of a single caucus in one state capital. State Rep. Stephen Precourt of Florida said during the teleconference, "Religious freedom caucuses -- that is, legislators of all political and religious affiliations working together ...
Abortion mandate's legality debated by panel
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Is the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate constitutional? It depends on which religious liberty/public policy expert was speaking at a recent panel discussion in the country's capital.
Battle against abortion mandate now includes SBC ethics entity
WASHINGTON (BP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention's religious freedom entity has joined the legal battle against the Obama administration's abortion/contraception mandate in the first case to reach a federal appeals court. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed Oct. 12 that asked a
"(I)t is an issue of religious freedom across the board for all people of faith - Protestant, Catholic and otherwise."
- Richard Land
federal appeals court to reverse the dismissal of two lawsuits against the controversial requirement under the 2010 health care law. The brief supports challenges by Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school in suburban Chicago, and Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic institution in North Carolina, to the mandate that employers provide workers with health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs. The ERLC -- and 10 other 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. More than 35 suits have been brought against the mandate, but the D.C. Circuit is the first appeals court to consider such a challenge. Oral arguments will not be held until after the final briefs are filed in mid-November. Though resistance to the mandate has been portrayed widely as Catholic in nature, ERLC President Richard Land said the case demonstrates the opposition is much more diverse than one religious body. "This particular case is vitally important both because of the nature of the appeal concerning a very narrow definition the government is following for religious employers and secondly because of who is involved in the suit," Land said Monday (Oct. 15). "One of the most prestigious evangelical colleges in the world in Wheaton College -- of which Billy Graham is a graduate - is one of the participants in the suit, which demonstrates this is not 'just' a Catholic issue, but it is an issue of religious freedom across the board for all people of faith -- Protestant, Catholic and otherwise." The ERLC is not the first Southern Baptist institution to join the court fight. Three Baptist schools -- Louisiana College, Houston Baptist University and East Texas Baptist University -- have filed lawsuits against the mandate. Federal courts have yet to rule in those challenges.
2 Baptist universities join legal fight against abortion mandate
HOUSTON (BP) -- Underscoring once again it's not a Catholic-only issue, two Baptist colleges have filed suit against the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate, saying they're standing up for what Baptists long have defended -- religious freedom.
"Baptists have always advocated religious liberty, and religious liberty is what is at stake in this situation."
-- ETBU president
Samuel Oliver
The Oct. 9 lawsuit by Houston Baptist University and East Texas Baptist University is the 33rd suit against the mandate, which requires employers to provide employee health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. The latter drugs often are labeled "morning-after" or "week-after" pills and come under brand names such as Plan B and ella, and can act after fertilization and even after implantation, thereby causing a chemical abortion. Churches are exempt from the mandate, but religious organizations -- such as Christian colleges, hospitals and businesses -- are not. The mandate was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011 and went into effect in August of this year, although HHS gave nonprofit religious organizations another year -- until August 2013 -- to comply. The new health care law signed by President Obama opened the door for the mandate. The law itself does not require coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, although it did give HHS the authority to determine what is and is not covered under the new law, often dubbed "Obamacare." The Supreme Court upheld the law earlier this year but did not deal with the issue raised by the mandate lawsuits. The list of businesses and organizations suing to overturn the mandate has grown in recent weeks, with arts and crafts company Hobby Lobby and Christian publisher Tyndale House joining the ranks. Another Baptist school, Louisiana College, filed suit in February. Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing Houston Baptist and East Texas Baptist in the suit, filed in a federal court in Texas. The schools say the mandate violates their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of religion and speech. "The Universities' religious beliefs forbid them from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion," the suit says. "... The government's Mandate unconstitutionally coerces the Universities to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties." Forcing the university to "pay a fine" for the "privilege of practicing one's religion or controlling one's own speech is un-American, unprecedented, and flagrantly unconstitutional," the suit states.
Bible publisher Tyndale files suit against abortion mandate
WASHINGTON (BP) -- Bible and Christian book publisher Tyndale House has filed suit against the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate, asserting it is an unconstitutional violation of religious liberty to force the publisher to pay for drugs that violate its faith tenets.
The mandate requires employers -- with few exceptions -- to carry employee health insurance plans that cover contraceptives and drugs that can cause chemical abortions. The latter drugs often are called "emergency contraceptives" and can act after conception, even after implantation. They come under brand names such as Plan B and ella. Tyndale is the publisher of The Living Bible as well as books by James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, Bill Bright and Josh McDowell. At least 30 lawsuits have been filed against the mandate. Churches and religious conventions are exempt from the mandate, but many religious organizations are not. That means many Christian colleges, hospitals and ministries must comply with the mandate, even though they may staunchly oppose abortion and/or contraceptives. The Tyndale lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), says the publisher opposes only contraceptives that can cause abortions. Employers that fail to comply face hefty fines. The mandate was implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services after President Obama signed the health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). The law itself does not include the mandate language, although it gives the federal government the power to decide what should and should not be covered under the law.

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