A group of Christian ministries is freed from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate after three long years of litigation. Living Ministries and several ministries of the Christian and Missionary Alliance have received relief from the U.S. Department of Justice and will no longer be forced to offer contraception coverage to employees.
The First Liberty Institute clients were granted relief from the Department of Justice a few weeks after President Trump announced he’d be scaling back the contraceptive mandate’s reach. While Obama did carve out exemptions for nonprofit religious groups, Trump’s new rule makes the exemptions much broader, allowing a reprieve to any employer who has “sincerely held religious beliefs” or “moral convictions,” including nonprofits, private firms and publicly traded companies.
The First Liberty clients explained to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney in a letter why these changes were important in the fight for religious freedom.
“By basing the exemption upon the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the entity seeking the exemption, the draft interim final rule contemplates broad protections for the right of conscience—as opposed to religious status—consistent with the First Amendment and the laws governing conscience throughout the United States.”
“Our clients can now get back to serving others instead of defending themselves against the government’s attacks on their faith,” said Jeremy Dys, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty Institute said in a statement Tuesday. “The Trump administration is right to let this be a decision between these ministries and the God they serve, rather than impose the government’s beliefs on these ministries.”
One of the most infamous cases to arise from the contraceptive mandate enforced by President Obama was the lawsuit waged by Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who serve the elderly poor. They sued the administration because they were being forced to violate their religious consciences. They won big at the Supreme Court in 2015, when the justices ruled their case should again be reviewed by the lower courts.
“The last three years of litigation could have been avoided entirely if the Obama administration had simply recognized that the First Amendment protects the rights conscience of these religious ministries against an administration intent on coercing their obedience,” Dys said. “We are grateful that the Trump administration has agreed to end this unnecessary and harmful assault on religious liberty.”