(Editor: Here is today's press release from the attorneys for Colorado Christian University in its suit against Obamacare's infringement of religious freedom.)
Washington, Feb. 10 - Facing a political firestorm, the administration today announced its intent to make partial changes to a controversial rule that would require religious institutions, in violation of their conscience, to pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. But the changes still leave out hundreds, if not thousands of religious organizations, businesses, and individuals that would still be forced to violate their religious beliefs.
The rule is currently subject to three lawsuits filed by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty—one on behalf of Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, one on behalf of Colorado Christian University, and one on behalf of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a Catholic media organization that self insures.
“This is a false ‘compromise’ designed to protect the President’s re-election chances, not to protect the right of conscience,” says Hannah Smith, Senior Legal Counsel for The Becket Fund. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of religious institutions are still left out in the cold and will be forced to violate their religious convictions.”
According to a White House statement, some religious employers will no longer be required to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs; coverage for those services will instead be provided for free directly by insurance companies. However, at least three problems remain.
** First, hundreds if not thousands of religious organizations self insure, meaning that they will still be forced to pay for these services in violation of their religious beliefs.
** Second, it is unclear which religious organizations are permitted to claim the new exemption, and whether it will extend to for-profit organizations, individuals, or non-denominational organizations.
** Third, money is fungible, and many religious organizations may still object to being forced to pay money to an insurance company which will turn around and provide contraception to its employees for free.
“It is especially telling that the details of this supposed ‘compromise’ will likely not be announced until after the election,” said Smith. “Religious freedom is not a political football to be kicked around in an election-year. Rather than providing full protection for the right of conscience, the administration has made a cynical political play that is the antithesis of ‘hope and change.’”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty<http://www.becketfund.org/> is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. The Becket Fund has a 17-year history of defending religious liberty for people of all faiths. Its attorneys are recognized as experts in the field of church-state law.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.349.7224.