March for Life Allowed Moral Exemption to Contraceptive Coverage

The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide free contraception coverage to female workers. Religious groups and their affiliates are exempt or may make accommodations. The reasoning is that these groups have religious reasons for opposing contraceptives.

A recent case has expanded this concept…a bit. The group March for Life is a nonprofit, nonreligious pro-life organization. They oppose methods of contraception that can amount to abortion, but their objection is a moral one, not based on religious beliefs. March for Life initially sued the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies, arguing that the government had violated equal protection principles by treating it differently from “similarly situated employers.”

In this initial challenge, the government argued that it had a rational basis for treating March for Life differently because the group “is not religious and is not a church.”

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia took issue with this conclusion and was clear to point out, “The characteristic that warrants protection—an employment relationship based in part on a shared objection to abortifacients—is altogether separate from theism. Stated differently, what HHS claims to be protecting is religious beliefs, when it actually is protecting a moral philosophy about the sanctity of life” (source).

Essentially, the court is stating that moral beliefs about the sanctity of life deserve the same consideration as religious beliefs when it comes to objections to the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. You don’t have to be a religious organization to have moral beliefs.

The court stated that the health care law had put workers between a rock and a hard place. If they participated in the health insurance plan that had the objectionable coverage, they would violate their beliefs. If they chose not to have health insurance, they would be penalized for not having insurance.

So, March for Life is allowed to have moral beliefs as an objection to a law they disagree with.

When did we become a country that had to ask permission to exercise moral or religious beliefs?

Lord, we have strayed so far.