When Will it Stop? Religious Lawsuits Over Healthcare Keep Piling Up

American Life League is licensed under CC BY 2.0
American Life League is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Nonprofit Religious lawsuits over contraception and health care have been rising steadily.

Since the declaration that employers’ health care must cover contraception, there have been an uprising of lawsuits filed in the Supreme Courts all over the nation. After the Hobby Lobby dispute, the Obama Administration took care to make a note within the law to allow companies, including religious nonprofits, to declare themselves exempt and allow a third-party insurer to take over the health care for their employees.

However, these organizations refuse to proclaim this a victory because in reality, they simply want to prevent people from doing anything they disagree with on religious grounds. In fact, their big argument for these lawsuits is that they will be “complicit” in the possibility that their employees may opt to use birth control and other forms of contraception.

Why this is Ridiculous

There are three appeals waiting to be accepted or rejected in October. These appeals have been filed to the Roberts court, headed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. While this court has seen a lot of victories for religiously motivated lawsuits, it is likely that the upcoming suits will be denied and potentially even rejected. Amid claims that the Obama Administration is leading a “war on religion” cases over the issue of contraception and health care have been rising steadily. One such case is Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. The nonprofit religious organization describes themselves as an equal opportunity employer, providing nursing home services to the elderly. They brought their objections to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. The final decision was that while the “plaintiffs sincerely oppose contraception … their religious objection cannot hamstring government efforts to ensure that plan participants and beneficiaries receive the coverage to which they are entitled”.

In an earlier case, East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said that the point of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was not to entitle religious organizations “to block third parties from engaging in conduct with which they disagree”.

Religious Accommodation

There is an accommodation in place for religious nonprofits to be exempt from covering birth control. It is a very easy process, so it honestly makes no sense that they won’t simply do it. All they do is fill out a 2 page form or send in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services. Once they do that, they are no longer obligated to cover insurance for their employees, and the obligation is transferred to the insurance carrier or a third-party administrator. With such simplicity, it really makes no sense that these organizations are bothering to continue taking the laws to court, considering that a majority of them have lost their cases.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter