HHS Threat Undiminished


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ABSTRACTHHS Threat Undiminished | Daily News | NCRegister.com Print Edition:  November 4, 2012 Sign-up for our E-letter!   Donate Archives Blogs Store Resources Advertise Jobs Radio Subscribe Make This My Homepage Resources Arts & Entertainment Books Commentary Culture of Life Education In Person News Opinion Sunday Guides Travel Vatican Dan Burke Edward Pentin Mark Shea Matthew Warner Jimmy Akin Matt & Pat Archbold Simcha Fisher Tito Edwards Jennifer Fulwiler Steven D. Greydanus Tim Drake Tom Wehner Our Latest Show About the Show About the Register Donate Subscribe Stations Schedule Other EWTN Shows Advertising Overview Editorial Calendar Order Web Ad Order Print Ad Print Article | Email Article | Write To Us Daily News Daily News HHS Threat Undiminished (1073) ELECTION ANALYSIS Tweet by KYLE DUNCAN 11/08/2012 Comment SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER The Affordable Care Act’s threat to religious liberty remains undiminished with the re-election of President Barack Obama. Prior to Election Day, the number of lawsuits against the federal mandate to provide free insurance for contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs had grown to 40, on behalf of some 100 plaintiffs — including the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of Washington, Wheaton College, EWTN (the Register's parent company) and Hobby Lobby stores. Decisions had begun to trickle out of federal courts: Two had already issued injunctions on behalf of religious business owners to prevent them from being forced to subsidize contraception, sterilizations and drugs like the abortifacient “morning-after pill.” Now that the presidential election is over, these fights will intensify. This is the second time in six months that the mandate has escaped being swept away by national events. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court came within one vote of invalidating the Affordable Care Act, which would have stripped federal authority for the mandate. But the act survived review, leaving the rapidly increasing number of lawsuits against the mandate as the last bulwark against the mandate’s affront to conscience. Given its campaign promises, a Romney administration presumably would have rescinded the mandate or broadened protections for religious objectors. The Obama administration has given less hope that, in a second term, there will be any meaningful change to the mandate. After all, this is the administration that authored the mandate to begin with and — heedless of public pleas from religious leaders across the spectrum of faiths — constructed a “religious employer” exemption so narrow that the ministries of Jesus Christ, St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa would not qualify. Back in February, the administration promised an “accommodation” for certain religious organizations, but it has left the details fuzzy and postponed finalizing it until August 2013. But religious organizations trying to plan for the future are being harmed by the mandate now. And now that the election is past, many religious organizations are rightly skeptical that the alleged accommodation will resolve their basic concerns.   What’s Next Going forward, the federal lawsuits against the mandate fall into two general camps. On the one hand are some 30 lawsuits on behalf of nonprofit organizations. These include Catholic and evangelical schools like the aforementioned Notre Dame and Wheaton, as well as The Catholic University of America, Ave Maria University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Belmont Abbey College and Louisiana College. They also include major Catholic archdioceses, Catholic social-service providers and the world’s largest Catholic broadcasting network (EWTN). The federal government has not responded to the merits of these lawsuits, but has instead sought to have them thrown out as premature. The government says that its non-binding promise of an “accommodation” by August 2013 means that the courts should not hear the lawsuits now — even though the mandate is a final rule that is now harming these plaintiffs’ ability to plan, hire and budget. Unfortunately, in two of the cases (Belmont Abbey and Wheaton), the courts have agreed with the government and dismissed the lawsuits. Those dismissals will be reviewed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in December. On the other hand are increasing numbers of lawsuits by religious business owners. These include Catholic businesses such as Hercules Industries (a heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer in Colorado) and Weingartz Supply Company (an outdoor power equipment company in Michigan), as well as Hobby Lobby , an Oklahoma-based arts-and-crafts chain founded and run by the Green family, who are evangelical Christians. The rights of religious business owners like these have been utterly disregarded. They would not benefit from the promised &.......