Christian groups win Obamacare birth control battle

By | December 12, 2018

Christian organizations do not need to comply with Obamacare’s birth control mandate, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Philip Brimmer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado ordered that the federal government cannot enforce the provision, which obligates employers to pay for health insurance for their workers that covers all forms of contraception without a copay.

Brimmer, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, determined that the rule violated rights established by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The mandate was challenged by six Christian organizations, including the Association of Christian Schools International, Samaritan Ministries International, Taylor University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

The birth control mandate was created as an outgrowth of Obamacare. The law was written to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to decide what type of preventive care health insurance plans should cover without a copay, and the Obama administration determined that all forms of birth control should be included.

The obligation previously had exemptions for houses of worship, but not for companies that had closely held religious beliefs. Those who didn’t comply would be fined, and after the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to find a work-around, groups again challenged them in court.

The Trump administration didn’t fight the challenge to the mandate and also has loosened the birth control rule by allowing employers to opt out of the mandate if they have religious or moral objections. The change is set to take effect at the beginning of 2019.

Some organizations oppose all forms of birth control and sterilization, while others oppose specific kinds, including an intrauterine device and emergency contraception, which they say are abortifacients because their labels say they can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus.