"Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion…is more needed in democratic republics than in any others." Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

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Still Unacceptable and Unconstitutional

HHS Proposed Rule still leaves religious Americans at risk

WASHINGTON, DC –  Today’s announcement of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the HHS mandate leaves the religious liberty of millions of Americans unprotected.

“Today’s proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious freedom of millions of Americans. For instance, it does nothing to protect the rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.  “The administration obviously realizes that the HHS mandate puts constitutional rights at risk.  There would have been an easy way to resolve this—expanding the exemption—but the proposed rule expressly rejects that option.”

The proposed rule fails to fix the HHS mandate’s fundamental problems:

  • The proposed rule provides no coverage for family businesses like Hobby Lobby.
  • The proposed rule does not meaningfully expand the “church-only” exemption – which is the real relief that our clients are entitled to under our constitution.
  • For other religious non-profits, HHS proposes a convoluted “accommodation” that may not resolve religious organizations’ objections to being coerced into providing contraceptives and abortifacients to their employees.
  • Finally, the long-awaited rule provides no concrete guidance for religious groups that are self-insured.

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Obama reopens rift with religious groups

By: Carrie Budoff Brown
February 1, 2013 08:49 PM EST

President Barack Obama wasn’t looking for another fight with religious groups when the administration attempted Friday to clarify its birth control mandate.

But he got one anyway.

The change was meant to help quell a wave of lawsuits by providing guidance on which employers are exempt and how exactly they would meet the mandate without violating their conscience, according to close observers of the process.

To leaders of the religious and conservative groups challenging the policy, though, it was the latest example of an administration that’s struggled to relate to them just not getting it.

The Faith & Freedom Coalition called it “window dressing and more of the same.” The Catholic Association tagged it “just another accounting gimmick.” The Judicial Crisis Network described it as “no solution at all.”

“Today’s proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious freedom of millions of Americans,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has helped employers bring lawsuits against the administration. “There would have been an easy way to resolve this — expanding the exemption — but the proposed rule expressly rejects that option.”

Two of the most influential groups — the Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Health Association — have yet to weigh in.

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Statement Regarding Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby Statement
For Immediate Release: January 10, 2013

“Following Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s decision on December 26th denying Hobby Lobby temporary relief from the HHS mandate to provide abortion-causing drugs as part of its healthcare plan, the company faced exposure to penalties beginning January 1.  Subsequently, Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.  Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its healthcare plan. Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties.” — Peter M. Dobelbower, General Counsel – Vice President, Legal, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. 

Health Care Company Granted Temporary Relief From HHS Mandate

January 3rd, 2013 by 

January 3, 2013 (Illinois) – Today Triune Health Group, Inc., a Roman Catholic health care service company based in DuPage County, Illinois won a preliminary injunction against the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services mandate for group insurance coverage of sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception.  Triune, recently named by Crain’s Chicago Business as the Best Place to Work for Women in the Chicago metro area, will be permitted to offer its employees a healthcare plan without having to violate its leaders’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

“This is a major victory for our clients and for the cause of religious liberty,” said Kevin Edward White, board member and legal counsel for Chicago’s Thomas More Society, which represents Triune together with the Sam Casey and Bart Waxman, Esqs., of the Jubilee Campaign’s Law of Life Project, based in Washington, D.C. “An oppressive, unconstitutional burden has been temporarily lifted from the shoulders of Christopher and Mary Anne Yep that allows them to continue to practice their Roman Catholic faith and operate their company in a manner that they deem faithful to their conscientious religious beliefs.”

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Priests for Life wins exemption from HHS mandate

A pro-life Catholic group has won a legal battle in court to get an exemption from having to comply with a federal Health and Human Services contraception mandate.

The mandate compels some religious employers to pay for and refer employees for birth control, abortion-causing drugs and contraception in violation of employers’ religious beliefs.

Last week, attorneys Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi presented oral argument in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in support of Priests for Life. The next day, the federal government entered into a stipulation that it would not enforce the HHS mandate against Priests for Life pending a revision in the rules that would protect religious liberty.

The government agreed that it “will not take any enforcement action against [Priests for Life], its group health plans, or the group health insurance coverage provided in connection with such plans, for not covering in the health plans any contraceptive services required to be covered.”

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