Contraceptive Mandate Challenge Thrown Out by Federal Judge

The Story: A lawsuit challenging a requirement that businesses offer employees contraception coverage through health care insurance was thrown out by a federal judge.

The Background: U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson in St. Louis dismissed the lawsuit filed earlier this year by Frank O’Brien and his O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC, which challenged the mandate based on the claim that it unconstitutionally violated his religious beliefs and the Catholic philosophy he applied in running his business.

In her ruling, Judge Jackson wrote,

Frank O’Brien is not prevented from keeping the Sabbath, from providing a religious upbringing for his children, or from participating in a religious ritual such as communion. Instead, plaintiffs remain free to exercise their religion, by not using contraceptives and by discouraging employees from using contraceptives.

[. . .]

This Court rejects the proposition that requiring indirect financial support of a practice, from which plaintiff himself abstains according to his religious principles, constitutes a substantial burden on plaintiff’s religious exercise.

Why It Matters: Jackson’s legal reasoning could be applied to every employer who has religious objections to the HHS mandate’s requirement to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients. As Legal analyst Ed Whelan explains, “Under her reasoning, the very narrow exemption that the Obama administration is affording some employers and the ‘safe harbor’ against enforcement that it is temporarily extending to others are entirely gratuitous.” Law professor Rob Vischer adds,

[I]f this court is correct in its analysis, then HHS could rewrite the regulations, remove any exemption for religious employers and add abortion to the list of covered services.  The Catholic Church could be forced to pay for its employees’ abortions without creating a substantial burden on religious exercise for purposes of [Religious Freedom Restoration Act], and that issue would be so straightforward that it could be handled on a [pretrial motion].


The FAQs: Updates on the Contraceptive-Abortifacient Mandate

  • Neo

    This type of news is depressing for so many reasons. I’m sure when the framers of the Constitution met, that one of the prime things on their minds was, “oh, and one day there should be taxes taken from business people to pay for the abortifacient birth control pharmaseuticals of their workers…”

  • Phil

    A quick thought (and this is assuming the “why it matters section” is 100 percent correct):

    Even if HHS “could” remove any exemptions for religious employers under this reasoning, that doesn’t mean it is going to happen. Indeed, it won’t happen. Because it is not politically feasible in any way. The uproar would be too great.

    If you doubt this, remember the uproar from a few months ago (when there WERE religious exemptions, just not enough exemptions for some people)? Now imagine that 10 times worse–given that there would be NO religious exemptions (if the administration were to change the regulations in the way suggested here). As I said, that is not going to happen. So please don’t get all worked up about something that isn’t going to happen.

    • Joe Carter

      ***Because it is not politically feasible in any way.***

      It wasn’t politically feasible for the HHS to deny a broad-based exemption to religious groups. But they did it anyway.

      Saying “that isn’t going to happen” isn’t very reassuring in an age when so many things that we were told weren’t going to happen (e.g., legalized same-sex marriage) have actually happened.

  • Mel

    I think every business should call their bluff and announce that they cannot in good conscious continue and as a result must close their doors. Can you imagine the catastrophic effect that would have on the unemployment numbers??? Obama’s murderous government would have to scramble and fix it.

    Unfortunately I don’t think most Christians in America are that serious about their faith when it comes right down to it. They will fold and the world will go on to be even worse than before.

  • Robert Alexander

    Civil Disobedience.

    The Hebrew midwives refuse murdering babies:
    Exodus 1:15-17; But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them.

    Shadrach-Meshach-Abednego refuse to bow to kings idol:
    Daniel 3; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

    Daniel refused to bow:
    Daniel 6; That Daniel, which is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the decree that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day.

    Peter & John refused to obey:
    Acts 5;
    Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

    These men who would remove self defense from among the pople are workers of wickedness.

    Micah 2:
    Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

  • Ethan David Ellingson

    A Christian need not obey a human law in contradiction to God’s.

    “Yahweh is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” Ps. 118

  • John Englehutt

    It is absolutely astounding that government can be so arrogant as to impose its morality on others(but wait, isn’t that what the Left always accuses Christians of wanting to do?). The fact is, as Rushdoony pointed out, all governments and societies are religious, and all religions have a law-order they enforce on members; the modern nation-state is humanist, thus they enforce hunmanist “laws” and articles of faith, contraceptives and abortions being one example of such. In contrast to the Lord God Almighty of Scripture, whose earth this is, the humanist faithful view human life as dung, a pollutant on the face of their idol, “Mother Eath”. God, by contrast, created man to have dominion and rule over the earth under Him(see Genesis 1). Whereas God declares that children are a blessing and “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Psalm 127:5), humanists seek to prevent this blessing by promotion of contraceptives and abortions. It is an ideology of death, and it must be recognized and fought by Christ’s people.

  • Chris

    Hey, where are all those so called “Christians” who shout (incorrectly): “Romans 13: We must obey the government” now ??? You know, just like their preachers and priests admonished them to do.

    Aren’t we supposed to just sit down, shut up and do what we’re told ?

    Oh, and don’t forget to make sure you “Render unto Caesar” and “pay your ‘fair share’ in taxes” and keep supporting The Beast and its wickedness.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I meant those wonderful ” … Rulers … ” that ” … are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.”