It’s a Friday afternoon. There must be some bad news coming out of the Obama administration. They do this, of course, to limit the amount of media coverage they get from their actions.
So today the Administration gave some long-promised revisions to the HHS contraceptive mandate. For months, the Administration has been arguing in court that nobody can sue over the mandate because there was a revision coming. They were pretty successful in getting judges to throw out lawsuits from Catholic organizations, especially colleges, that the lawsuits weren’t “ripe” because they hadn’t fixed it yet.
Well now the “fix” has been announced. And it doesn’t seem much of a fix, according to some. The responses have been…underwhelming.
Fox News reports:
“After over a year of litigation, our clients and many others like them were hoping for much, much more from the administration,” Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said on a conference call. The group has represented several religious-affiliated schools suing over the rule.
Duncan also said in a statement that the proposal “does nothing to protect the religious liberty of millions of Americans.”
“The rights of family businesses like Hobby Lobby are still being violated,” he said.
The pro-life Susan B. Anthony List also panned the announcement. “There must be no religious ‘test’ by the government as to who, and what type of entities, are entitled to a conscience,” President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. Her group said “non-religious entities” such as their own should be taken into consideration.
Nobody seems to know for sure if this new exemption applies to Catholic colleges yet. As you remember, many Catholic colleges including Ave Maria, Belmont Abbey College, and The University of Notre Dame have sued to prevent from being forced to cover contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures.
But a Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Director of Policy and Regulation Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said “No nonprofit religious institution will be forced to pay for or provide contraceptive coverage, and churches and houses of worship are specifically exempt.”
That would seem at first glance to include Catholic colleges but not businesses like Hobby Lobby. So it would certainly appear that in America you cannot be a faithful Catholic and a business owner. It’s a sad day for America. A separate wrinkle will be those Catholic colleges that are self-insured. I’m sure lawyers are going through all of this attempting to make sense of it. I’ll keep you informed when I learn more.
Brooks-LaSure strangely added that the rule is “not yet final.” By that, I assume that means that this is not the final rule change which is a way of saying the Administration is going to continue to attempt to have lawsuits dismissed on the grounds that the rule could still change. If this is true, this would be a terribly disingenuous act in that for months they’ve promised the revision to finalize the mandate’s rules but then they offer a revision and say but it’s not yet final?
It’s a sad day when the government of the United States mandates that religious believers must act against their own faith.