One of the worst parts of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, was that it forced companies to violate their beliefs. It demanded that employers with more than 50 workers had to offer birth control services or be held in violation of the law. The regulation also required that schools provide birth control coverage to students on their campuses.
In 2013, four Christian schools in Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the regulation. On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma finally decided in favor of the universities. Now, they can abide by their religious beliefs without fear.
That lawsuit demanded relief from the Obamacare mandate, which required that the universities provide contraceptives coverage to students and employees.
The schools all belong to various sects of Christianity that do not believe in contraception, and believe that it is sinful to use it. For many religions, that means that helping to provide contraceptives can be deemed a ‘mortal sin.’
The decision from the U.S. District Court, handed down by a federal judge, granted relief for the four universities, protecting them from government harassment for refusing to provide contraceptives.
There is an important lesson in the decision.
The four schools used the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for the basis of their claim. The RFRA, introduced as legislation by none other than former democrat Congressman Chuck Schumer and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton, provided a strict test for laws that impacted the free expression of religion in the United States as stated in the First Amendment.
That test, known as the Sherbert Test, provides exceptions to the freedom of religion only if two conditions are met.
Firstly, the burden imposed upon free exercise of religion must be necessary “for the furtherance of a compelling government interest.” Secondly, the rule must be the least ‘restrictive’ way that the government can push their interest.
The case did not end in a positive decision for the four schools because they managed to prove their case. Rather, the federal government ceased defending the mandate.
In the decision, it actually stated that the defendants were no longer “raising a substantive defense to Plaintiff’s RFRA claims regarding compliance with” the Health and Human Services mandate.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that defends religious freedom in the courts, celebrated the ruling, saying it was a victory for religious organizations and religious liberty.
Obamacare basically gave the HHS wide latitude to mandate what insurance provided by private companies had to offer. So, HHS decided that in order to be ‘ACA compliant,’ insurance plans had to offer birth control.
Many religious businesses were left with only two choices. They could comply with the new mandate, and in doing so violate their religious beliefs, or they could refuse to comply with the mandate and face fines and government harassment.
By the time these four universities sued the federal government, they were joining literally dozens of similar suits brought by nonprofits, schools, and even businesses like Hobby Lobby.
When President Donald Trump won the election in 2016, he promised that he would roll back the mandate and protect freedom of religious practice throughout the country.
In October 2017, he made good on his promise, and rolled back the HHS mandate. This angered Planned Parenthood and other ‘pro-choice’ leaders, who complained loudly, but to no avail. The Trump administration upheld the freedom of religious practice.
The United States Bill of Rights offers protection for the free practice of religion. If people are forced to act against their reliefs, that protection is meaningless, and the United States would be little better than the USSR, where there was ‘freedom of religion,’ but no freedom of practice whatsoever.
Obamacare was a quickly-written plan to allow leftists to tell EVERYONE what insurance they had to have, and what that insurance had to cover. Hopefully, President Trump is not done undermining the awful law that has increased health care prices around the nation.