One aspect of the unpopular ObamaCare law that has resulted in widespread backlash from the religious community has been struck down by the nation’s second-highest court.
In a decision issued Friday morning, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that companies should not be forced to cover birth control in insurance policies if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.
“The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote in the court’s opinion; “instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan.”
The 2-1 ruling is a major victory for business owners Francis and Philip Gilardi, whose opposition to the mandate was the basis of the case. Experts report that the U.S. Supreme Court will likely have the final say in this debate, however.
The Gilardi brothers, along with countless business owners across the nation, have adamantly opposed being forced to choose between adhering to their faith or paying steep penalties for violating the mandate.
Brown addressed that very concern in her written decision, saying that the law would either “cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building” or force them to “become complicit in a grave moral wrong.”
While supporters say that contraception is a vital aspect of the law, equating it with the larger concept of women’s rights, the court ruling questioned that stance.
According to the decision, “the government has failed to demonstrate how such a right – whether described as noninterference, privacy, or autonomy – can extend to the compelled subsidization of a woman’s procreative practices.”
The bottom line, Brown wrote, is that “even without the contraceptive mandate,” the law still “fulfills the statutory command for insurers to provide gender-specific preventive care.”
Though plenty of criticisms yet remain regarding ObamaCare, an impartial ruling on this aspect gives detractors hope that the other troubling mandates – or the law altogether – might one day be overturned.
–B. Christopher Agee
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