Obamacare marked its third birthday recently, but Americans are not celebrating the health care law outgrowing its “terrible twos.” Unlike a toddler's tantrums, Obamacare's anti-life mandates will not improve with age. Rather, under the guiding hand of the Obama administration and its allies in the abortion industry, Obamacare at age 3 seeks to deny more constitutional freedoms than on the day it was enacted.
The Obamacare regulation often referred to as the “HHS mandate” could effectively shut down Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma-based national arts and crafts retailer founded and run by David Green and his family. Hobby Lobby actually faces more debilitating fines by providing its employees with health insurance that does not cover so-called “emergency contraceptives” than it would if it provided no health insurance at all.
Obamacare's HHS mandate is symptomatic of a dangerous mantra of the abortion lobby. It does not stand for “choice.” Rather, the abortion lobby demands the government coerce Americans, like the Green family, to support its agenda in violation of sincerely held religious and moral beliefs.
The HHS mandate defines the “preventive services” provision of Obamacare to require health insurance plans to fully cover (without co-pay) all FDA-approved contraceptives. The FDA's definition of “contraception” is deceptively broad and includes the abortion-inducing drug ella.
As such, the FDA's definition and the HHS mandate are a one-two knockout punch from the Obama administration to the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of conscience. Together, they force Americans to pay for life-ending drugs and devices, providing no protection for those whose religious, moral, or ethical beliefs preclude support for the abortion lobby's anti-life agenda and its financial bottom line.
Although Planned Parenthood had a hand in creating the HHS mandate, the abortion lobby is not the final arbiter of its legality. The constitutionality of the mandate is the subject of 58 lawsuits, involving more than 190 plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs challenging the HHS mandate are diverse. Some have religious objections to all contraceptives, while some — for example, Hobby Lobby — only object to those drugs with life-ending mechanisms of action. They all have one thing in common: the HHS mandate forces them to violate their consciences or face crippling fines.
Hobby Lobby, with more than 500 stores and over 22,500 employees, is the largest plaintiff to be denied an injunction against the enforcement of the mandate. Hobby Lobby faces a penalty as high as $1.3 million per day, for not facilitating and paying for insurance coverage of ella and other life-ending drugs and devices.
Conversely, in 19 of the 24 other cases involving challenges by for-profit employers, courts have issued orders against the HHS mandate's enforcement. These initial rulings are promising, but, ultimately, the fate of this unprecedented and coercive mandate will be decided by the Supreme Court.
Without relief from the courts, action by Congress, or a change of heart at the White House, the clock is running out for the freedom of conscience of all Americans, not just the Green family.
Franzonello is staff counsel for Americans United for Life, which has filed 11 amicus curie briefs regarding the Affordable Care Act.