WASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upheld the 2010 health care law Thursday, dealing a disheartening setback to pro-life and religious liberty advocates who fervently oppose the controversial measure.
|"We will never allow this Administration, or any other, to tell us that we have to provide abortive drugs like morning-after pills." |
-- O.S. Hawkins
With Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote in a 5-4 opinion, the high court Thursday (June 28) announced its support for what critics often label "Obamacare." Four associate justices -- Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito -- said in a dissenting opinion they would have struck down the entire law.
Writing for the majority, Roberts said the "individual mandate," which requires almost all Americans to buy health insurance, is a valid exercise by Congress of its power to tax. Although Congress does not have the power under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution to require the purchase of health insurance, it does have the authority to tax those who do not have such coverage, the court said.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- in combination with subsequent federal rules -- not only has elicited widespread opposition because of the "individual mandate" but because of other provisions, such as its federal subsidies for abortion, an abortion/contraceptive mandate that critics say violates religious liberty and a requirement that insurance plans in state exchanges not disclose their abortion coverage until people are enrolled.
The abortion-contraceptive mandate, which requires all plans to cover contraceptives and sterilizations as preventive services without cost to employees, has been in the spotlight of criticism since a federal rule to that effect was announced in January. The mandate includes coverage of contraceptives that can cause abortions of tiny embryos. The rule regarding that mandate has a religious exemption critics find woefully inadequate and has elicited ardent opposition from church groups and religious freedom advocates. Read More