A decision by the United States Supreme Court to uphold the core of President Obama’s health care law has given new impetus to legal challenges by church groups.
The court did not address the religious liberty issue regarding a Health and Human Services mandate that requires religious employers to pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilisation despite their religious objections.
Twenty-three separate lawsuits are continuing against the law. They involve 56 individual plaintiffs, mostly Catholic, include bishops, universities and news organisations.
“The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct [its] fundamental flaws,” said the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.”
The bishops have called the health care law a major violation of religious liberty because of the contraception mandate. They also oppose the use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions.
The bishops have made opposition to the HHS mandate and the White House’s view of religious liberty the centrepiece of one of their biggest campaigns in a generation. It has included a two-week campaign of rallies, mega-Masses and concerts called Fortnight for Freedom.
“This thing is not over for sure,” said Rick Garnett, a Notre Dame Law School professor who has advised the bishops on their religious liberty campaign.
He said the Catholic Church has long supported the general concept of universal health care, but the HHS mandate, which was announced by the White House after the law was passed, was like a “poison pill” for many Catholics.
Among others opposing the mandate, the Christian Legal Society called it “the first exception to our national commitment to protect religious conscience in the abortion context — a tradition that has been bipartisan for 40 years”.
News category: World.