Advancing Religious Liberty
11/7/14 at 12:26 PM 0 Comments

3 Reasons March for Life Should Not Be Forced to Pay for Abortion Pills (Besides the Obvious)

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AUTHOR: Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Web Writer Marissa Poulson

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in the case of March for Life v. Burwell this week. This case is one of the many abortion-pill mandate lawsuits that have flooded the courts since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, but this case certainly has its own unique twist.

If you’re not familiar, March for Life is a nonprofit, pro-life organization that was founded in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortions. March for Life believes that human life begins at conception. For this reason, the organization cannot, in good conscience, provide insurance plans covering abortion-inducing drugs that can destroy human lives in their early development.

It’s hard to ignore the head-scratching irony of forcing a pro-life organization to fund abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under the threat of heavy financial penalties from the IRS. But in addition to this obvious problem, here are three reasons why March for Life should not be forced to include coverage of abortion drugs in their health insurance plan.

  1. It denies March for Life equal protection under the law.
    While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created an exemption for religious employers, March for Life is not included in this exemption because it is not a religious organization and it is not a church. The HHS refuses to realize that while the pro-life stance is often associated with people from religious backgrounds, there are plenty of people who oppose abortion for ethical reasons. The Fifth Amendment requires equal treatment of similarly-situated people and organizations. Although March for Life is not religious, it only employs and hires people who share the organization’s opposition to abortion. The organization should not be forced to ignore its foundational beliefs simply because it is not religious, and therefore, should be granted the same protection under the law as churches and certain religious groups.
  2. It violates March for Life employees’ rights to live according to their conscience.
    Two of the plaintiffs in the case are March for Life employees with sincerely held religious beliefs. They object to participating in a plan that covers abortion-inducing drugs and devices to plan participants. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act holds that Americans have the right to live by their conscience and express their ethical and religious beliefs. For these March for Life employees, that includes the option for a health insurance plan that does not cover abortion-inducing drugs—an option they currently do not have.
  3. It ignores March for Life employees’ First Amendment rights.
    The Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the First Amendment guarantees March for Life employees with religious convictions the right to freely exercise their faith on a daily basis. The abortion-pill mandate interferes with these employees’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to participate in a health insurance plan that covers abortion-inducing drugs, which directly violates their sincerely held beliefs. Their only option would be to refuse health insurance as compensation through their employer—which would deprive themselves and their families from the benefits of health insurance.

With Alliance Defending Freedom’s 20-0 record in abortion pill mandate cases, including a recent Supreme Court victory in Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell, the odds are in March for Life’s favor.

However, the fact that this case even exists shows how poorly thought out the abortion-pill mandate is, and how little effort has been put into developing real solutions for organizations that should clearly be exempt from such a controversial rule.

This post originally appeared here.

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