by Jack Minor –
Colorado Christian University has filed a lawsuit against a requirement in Obamacare that requires all healthcare plans to provide abortion inducing contraceptive services regardless of an organization’s religious beliefs.
The lawsuit names the Department of Health and Human Services, saying they are engaging in “a deliberate attack by the government on the religious beliefs of the Colorado Christian and millions of other Americans.”
The issue revolves around whether religious institutions have the right to practice their faith in a practical manner, or if they must be forced to accommodate others who disagree with them, particularly in the area of human life.
Former Sen. Bill Armstrong, president of CCU, told the Gazette he believes the university has a strong case. “Many people who are pro-abortion rebel at the idea of coercing people who have a sincerely held aversion to abortion to support it.” Armstrong also said they believed the HHS regulation violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedures Act as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
Armstrong noted that CCU’s lawsuit was not a broad attack on Obamacare but only on proposed regulations by HHS that require religious organizations to violate their deeply held beliefs that forbid them from supporting abortion. “This rule will affect us in a very direct way.”
While President Obama has a 100 percent rating from militant pro-abortion group, NARAL, for policies such as electing pro-abortion Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan and repealing Bush era conscience provisions for health care workers, the group still wants more.
The group has taken the position that no religious employer should have the option to opt out of contraceptive services, regardless of the employer’s religious beliefs on the matter. Their position is basically that a woman’s right to choose entitles them to force others to provide that choice.
While NARAL may be opposed to the religious exemptions, in actuality the current proposed rule is so vague the government could deny the exemption for any group.
According to the proposed rule, to qualify as a religious employer, an organization has to meet four criteria.
An organization has to have the inculcation of religious values as its purpose, primarily employ and serve persons who share its religious tenets, and be a recognized non-profit organization.
What is unclear is exactly what is meant by the phrase “share its religious tenets.”
For instance, does that mean that a Catholic hospital must primarily employ and serve not just Christians, but only Roman Catholics? While some may say it refers to Christians in general, if one were to ask Catholics, Baptists and evangelicals if they all share each other’s faith, many would answer with a resounding, “No.”
If an organization such as a Catholic or Baptist hospital were to limit employment and providing medical services to members of a specific denomination in order to qualify for the exemption the hospital would then run afoul of state and federal laws regarding discrimination.
When HHS was asked for specifics on how narrowly they were planning to interpret the rule, the agency’s response was non-committal.
Keith Maley, a spokesman for HHS, said, “The rule is the rule, I can’t break it down any more than what it actually says.” The Gazette then asked if the section stating an organization had to “primarily serve people who share its religious tenets” referred to services such as a hospital admitting patients. He responded, “It is what it is and what it states.” Maley acknowledged that a judge could interpret it to apply to a church or other religious institution, but that was not up to the HHS to make that determination.
Maley continued to be pressed multiple times for a definition of the phrase and refused to offer specifics each time. “They are pretty specific regarding the language for what is required to qualify, but I just cannot define them further.” When asked if that meant they were still determining the meaning of the phrase, he said, “I can’t speak to that, all I can say is this is the rule that we put out. What we are responding to is public comment on the proposed rule.”
Armstrong said “The way that rule is written it will be very difficult for anyone to qualify for an exemption. It is very unfair.”