Victory — and Defeat — in Battle Over Contraception Mandate

By:  Dave Bohon
11/21/2012
       
Victory — and Defeat — in Battle Over Contraception Mandate

A pair of rulings covering Obama's contraception mandate demonstrates the conflict that is emerging between religious freedom and the President's audacious attempts at government coercion. by Dave Bohon

A pair of court rulings covering President Obama's contraception mandate, which requires employers to provide free abortion-inducing contraceptives with their health insurance, has Christian business owners and faith-based non-profits wondering if they will be considered religious enough to dodge the rule they consider morally unacceptable. While churches are immune from the rule, other Christian organizations, as well as private businesses, are required to offer contraceptives, including “morning after pills” that are known to induce abortion. Thus far over 40 businesses, schools, and other organizations have filed suit to stop the mandate, arguing that their moral and religious convictions prevent them from following it.

On November 16 one of those companies, Christian publisher Tyndale House, won a victory when a federal judge granted a temporary injunction blocking the Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from forcing the company to implement the mandate. While Tyndale, the world's largest Christian publisher which funnels nearly all of its profits into Christian, non-profit endeavors, strongly objects to covering abortifacients in its health plan, HHS attorneys insisted that the company is not “religious enough” and must comply with the mandate.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton agreed with the Christian business, ruling in his temporary injunction that “the beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable.... Christian principles, prayer, and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company’s ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission.”

In his ruling Walton wrote that he had “no reason to doubt ... that Tyndale’s religious objection to providing insurance coverage for certain contraceptives reflects the beliefs of Tyndale’s owners.” He added that there was also no dispute that Tyndale's primary owner, Tyndale House Foundation, “can ‘exercise religion’ in its own right, given that it is a non-profit religious organization; indeed, the case law is replete with examples of such organizations asserting cognizable free exercise and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges.”

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