The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing several cases last year challenging Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s signature “affordable” health care reform law. Among other things, the law requires that employers include birth control coverage in employee health care plans. Some of these drugs could induce abortions.
Pro-life religious organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor and East Texas Baptist University object to offering drugs that could kill unborn babies.
In response to objections on these grounds, the Obama administration created a so-called accommodation to the law. Religious employers who oppose the contraception mandate can notify the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in writing, and the government would step in to make sure employees had access to the drugs.
But people of faith who oppose killing unborn babies don’t want to be involved with the mandate at all. They believe even the accommodation conflicts with their faith and mission. Employers who don’t comply with the mandate face burdensome fines.
The Religion News Service reported that the high court essentially has asked the parties to reach a compromise — how to get the drugs to employees without employer involvement — no doubt to avoid a 4-4 ruling. With conservative and pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia no longer on the court, such cases are likely to result in a party-line tie. An excerpt:
On Tuesday (March 29) the justices asked lawyers on both sides in seven cases, which were heard last week, to submit additional briefs on the subject within the next few weeks.
It was a clear indication that at least one member of the court — most likely Justice Anthony Kennedy — is seeking a way out of yet another 4-4 decision that would set no national precedent. The high court has issued two such divided opinions in the past eight days following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last month.
“The parties are directed to address whether contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners’ employees, through petitioners’ insurance companies, without any such notice from petitioners,” the order read.
If one believes abortion is murder, and playing any role in it is a sin, how would religious groups compromise?
In a recent column about these cases, Star Parker wrote:
“Although, according to the Constitution, it is the job of Congress to legislate and the job of the executive branch to execute and administer, the lion’s share of the legislative responsibility of determining what is ‘preventative care’ was punted to HHS. They then contracted out to their beltway bandit friends to decide and suddenly included in ‘preventive care’ was contraceptives, sterilization and pills to induce abortion.
“Not only did HHS and their beltway bandit friends decide the definition of ‘preventative care,’ but also those same HHS bureaucrats decided the definition of ‘religion’ by granting exemptions to those whom they think deserve one for religious purposes.”