Feb 25, 2013 Comments Off Jake Hammer
Excerpted from CNS NEWS: – While presenting an oral argument in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last fall, a lawyer for the U.S. Justice Department told a federal judge that the Obama administration believed it could force the judge’s own wife—a physician—to act against her religious faith in the conduct of her medical practice.
The assertion came in the case of Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, a challenge to the Obama administration’s regulation requiring health-care plans to cover sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
Tyndale is a for-profit corporation that publishes Bibles, biblical commentaries and other religious works. Tyndale House Foundation, a religious non-profit organization, owns 96.5 percent of the corporation’s stock and receives 96.5 percent of its profits. The foundation’s mission is “to minister to the spiritual needs of people, primarily through grants to other religious charities.”
As a matter of religious principle, the foundation believes that human life begins at conception and that abortion is wrong.
The corporation self-insures, providing its employees with a generous health-care plan. But, in keeping with its religious faith, it does not in any way provide abortions. For this reason, Tyndale sued the Obama administration, arguing that the Obamacare regulation that would force it to provide abortion-inducing drugs and IUDs in its health-care plan violated its right to the free-exercise of religion.
“Consistent with the religious beliefs of Tyndale and its owners, Tyndale’s self-insured plan does not and has never covered abortions or abortifacient drugs or devices such as emergency contraception and intrauterine devices,” Tyndale said in its legal complaint, prepared by the Alliance Defending Freedom.
When Tyndale sought a preliminary injunction to prevent the administration from enforcing the regulation on the company before the federal courts could determine the issue on its merits, Benjamin Berwick, a lawyer for the Civil Division of the Justice Department presented the administration’s argument for why Tyndale should be forced to act against the religious faith of its owners. The oral argument over the preliminary injunction occurred Nov. 9 in Judge Walton’s court.
Berwick argued here–as the administration has argued in other cases where private businesses are challenging the sterilization-contraception-abortifacient mandate–that once people form a corporation to conduct business they lose their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion insofar as their business is concerned.
In the face of this argument, Judge Walton asked an interesting question. His wife, a graduate of Georgetown Medical School, is a physician. She has incorporated her medical practice. Does that mean, according to the Obama administration’s argument, that the federal government can force her to act against her religious faith in the conduct of her medical practice?
Berwick effectively answered: Yes.