Healthcare and Religious Liberty
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Dear Friend,

As you know by now, the federal government is requiring both religious and secular employers to fund possible abortion-inducing drugs as part of most companies' employee health plans. This has created a national outcry over the blatant disregard for religious liberty under the new federal healthcare law.

With more than 30 lawsuits from some 80 businesses, religious organizations and individuals over the mandate, various initial court decisions are beginning to emerge. Some are encouraging, such as the decision from Denver saying the Catholic owners of a secular business do not have to comply with the mandate while their lawsuit proceeds.

Others, however, are discouraging.

Last Friday, a federal district court judge in Missouri dismissed the legal challenge from a secular business, O'Brien Industrial Holdings, and its owner, Frank O'Brien, who is Catholic. What's different—and chilling—about this particular decision is the reasoning behind the decision.

Judge Carol Jackson concluded that forcing a company to fund a health insurance plan that could be used to pay for contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs was not a "substantial burden" on the religious beliefs of any employer—religious or otherwise—because there was no difference between paying an employee a salary that might be used to obtain an abortion or paying an insurance company which might pay for the employee's abortion.

No difference? The 80 plaintiffs who've filed the 30 lawsuits and the people who have sent more than 200,000 public comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since the mandate was first proposed see a big difference. So do we.

Perhaps most alarming is that if Jackson's reasoning is allowed to stand, then no employer, including religious individuals, institutions and churches, are protected from the mandate (or similar laws) unless the government is kind enough to grant such an exemption.

We, however, continue to believe and fight for the truth that our religious freedom comes from God, not the government. The O'Brien case is only in its initial stages of litigation, and we will continue to follow it and the other lawsuits against the offensive mandate and report back to you as they develop.

For faith and family,
Signed:  Tom  Minnery
Tom Minnery
Senior Vice President, Government & Public Policy
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