Faith and the Affordable Care Act Contraceptive Mandate

The Affordable Care Act contraceptive mandate continues as a significant concern for the religious community. In recent weeks, more organizations have sued the federal government asserting the mandate violates the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

The Central Issue

The core issue is a Department of Health contraceptive mandate troubles Christian men and womenand Human Services rule.  It states that all health plans must cover all forms of contraception and sterilization approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  There are 20  FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and methods, including four that abortion-inducing.

Businesses face financial penalties if they do not comply with the mandate.  For some, the penalties would be millions of dollars annually.  Several of the plaintiffs note that penalties imposed would be greater than their annual profits.  For them, the choice is violate their faith or close the doors of their businesses.

Men and women of faith believe the contraceptive mandate requires them to act against their faith and conscience. In response to concerns from religious entities, the Obama Administration offered what it called a “fair accommodation” for some religious groups, including denominational entities and churches. However, people do not feel the accommodation extends far enough.

For-profit Plaintiffs

To date, there are 75 lawsuits filed against the federal government related to the contraceptives mandate. Thirty-nine were brought by for-profit businesses owned by men and women of faith.  Courts have ruled on 35 of them. The scorecard on these suits is 30 rulings in favor of the plaintiff business and five favoring the government.

Nonprofit Plaintiffs

We also thought it would be interesting to look at the nonprofit plaintiffs the Department of Health and Human Services says do not qualify as religious entities. Some of them are:

  • Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order founded in 1839.
  • GuideStone Financial Resources, the financial, insurance and retirement benefits division of the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • Colorado Christian University, a non-denominational college in Colorado Springs.
  • Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America
  • Criswell College and Criswell Bible Institute, a Baptist college in Dallas.
  • Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic Benedictine college in North Carolina.
  • Ave Maria University, a Catholic College in Florida.
  • Louisiana College, a Baptist college in Louisiana.
  • Geneva College, a Reformed Presbyterian college in Pennsylvania.
  • Priests for Life.
  • Several Roman Catholic diocese and archdiocese.
  • Catholic Charities of DC.
  • The American Catholic University.
  • Catholic Charities of St. Louis.
  • The University of Notre Dame.

One wonders how the federal government can possibly question the religious purpose of these organizations.

What’s Next?

Two of the for-profit plaintiffs are seeking review by the United States Supreme Court, and the Department of Justice appealed another.  Because appellate courts issued conflicting rulings, many legal experts agree review of the Affordable Care Act contraceptive mandate is likely.

Soter’s Position

At Soter Healthcare, our faith guides our work and the way we live our lives.  We appreciate the sensitivity of issues debated by those who support the contraceptive mandate as well as those who oppose it for religious reasons.  We feel that a couple’s choice about contraception is theirs to make, and so we don’t express an opinion regarding one method over another as respects any other person.

We believe God teaches respect for life from its conception.  As we understand it, four of the contraceptive methods approved by the FDA are abortifacients. Based on our faith, we cannot take part in providing, funding or promoting those methods.

We hope the Supreme Court will uphold the protection for freedom of religious expression contained in the First Amendment. It is one of our nation’s most fundamental principles.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts and comments.

5 Responses to “Faith and the Affordable Care Act Contraceptive Mandate”
  • Keith says:

    Of course the ACA does not demand that an order of nuns provide birth control through their health insurance plan. As of the timing of the mostly ignorant comments above, both the law and the regulation process have made it clear that entities for whom religious activities are a significant portion of the business activity are not required to meet the mandate for providing birth control. What remains at question, and we can only hope that sanity will prevail upon the SCOTUS in their ruling later this month, is whether businesses whose purpose has nothing to do with religion, like Hobby Lobby, but whose owners have whatever objection they cite (HL’s owners use religion) in order to avoid the mandate. The very idea that Hobby Lobby, a for-profit company whose only “evidence” of religiosity is closing on Sunday and playing religious tunes as background music in their stores, could be allowed to hurt the vast majority of their child-bearing age employees (who use birth control) by not meeting the mandate for insurance to provide birth control is folly on its face. As I said, hopefully the SCOTUS will get it right this time.

    • SCOTUS says:

      Thankfully common sense prevailed in the courts. It is most unfortunate that you believe whether for profit or non profit business should be required to provide something they don’t believe in. I own a company and it is for profit so when I reach the level of 50 employees I will have to make a decision whether I hire another employee or not. More than likely not because I will not pay for the contraceptives. My faith, as others drives all my decisions. It has nothing to do with Sundays church attendance or not. I find it amazing that we who may not find homosexuality acceptable as an example are forced to not voice our beliefs about it because it is offensive but the moment we stand for something we believe in its again offensive. My final thought for Keith, as a tax payer it is most unfortunate that a portion of my tax dollars go to a government that supports these contraceptives of which goes against my faith and belief system. Maybe you love the government, maybe the government has given you plenty of support (tax payers) but I for one believe those that have little to no reliance on government are those that are most productive in society and most successful in life. Based on your comments I would find it hard to believe you are either.

  • Melanie Baker says:

    I understand the importance of contraceptives for a woman. However, I do think there should be an exemption for people and companies that have a legitimate faith-based objection. I hope the Supreme Court upholds the First Amendment for all of us.

  • Gary Zuvanich says:

    Seriously, the government is going to require an order of nuns to provide themselves with insurance that covers contraceptives? This by itself may be proof that our government has lost every bit of common sense it may have had. It’s also very disappointing that a president, who claims to be a Christian, is not advocating for relief.

  • Michelle S. says:

    I enjoy reading the enthusiasm you have for your work. It’s nice to see passionate writers like you who are not reluctant to mention what they believe.

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