Should a company be allowed to opt out of Obamacare for religious reasons?

An Ohio company wants to opt out of Obamacare for reasons they say are protected by Freedom of Religion. Do they have a point? Suppose you find your company paying for a procedure you think is wrong. Suppose, for example, that you don't think you should have to pay for circumcision. Here's the article:

Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate illegally infringes upon the religious freedom of two Catholic grocery store owners in Ohio, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday.

The court’s ruling means Francis and Philip Gilardi do not have to provide contraceptives in their employees’ health care plans pending the resolution of their case. The Gilardis, who own Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, are among at least 39 for-profit corporation owners who have sued the federal government over the 2010 health care reform law’s provision that says large employer health plans must include all FDA-approved contraceptives without co-pays.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the majority that the mandate put the Gilardis, both devout Catholics, in an impossible position to provide health coverage for their 400 employees. “They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong,” wrote Brown.

The court said the government had not shown it had a compelling enough interest in forcing employers to provide birth control to justify infringing upon individual owners’ religious objections. “A parade of horribles will descend upon us, the government exclaims, if religious beliefs could serve as a private veto for the contraceptive mandate,” Brown wrote.

Brown argued that religious business owners should be allowed to opt out, as the Obama administration has already carved out exceptions to the mandate for nonprofit religious organizations such as churches and other groups.

The decision is the latest to add to a lower court split on the contraceptive mandate, which means the Supreme Court will almost certainly decide to weigh in and settle it, just a year after it upheld health care reform’s individual mandate.

So far, the 3rd and 6th circuit courts have rejected arguments that businessmen's religious freedom is infringed upon by the birth control mandate. The 10th, 8th and 7th circuit courts have disagreed, forwarding the religious freedom argument.

Many of the cases challenging the contraceptive mandate cite Citizens United, the controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision that found corporations cannot be restricted in how they spend their money for political reasons, because it infringed on their right to free speech. The Gilardis argued that their grocery store corporation also had its own right to free exercise of religion and thus was protected from having to provide contraceptives to employees. (full article here

Can you see both sides of the issue? After all, Freedom of Religion, it has been established, also protects our freedom from religion. Our freedom not to be religious.

Which side are you on?

Tags: Circuit, Court, Obamacare, Supreme, abortion, contraception, reproductive, rights

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Of course they don't have a case Unseen, fuck them and their religion. I know you like making threads, but pick something proper, come on.

Well, we'll see if anyone who replies has an actual argument to present, rather than just their opinion.

Some of the taxes I pay contribute to war efforts.  I might be a total pacifist, but that would not excuse me from paying a portion of my taxes towards a war I may vehemently disagree with.  I believe the same obligations would apply to religious employers.  If they don't like it that some of the healthcare premiums they contribute are used for activities they don't like, well they will just have to deal with it.

I find it stranger that there is this big objection to birth control, than there is to war contributions, to be honest.  "Thou shalt not kill" is one of the ten commandments, after all.  "Thou shalt not use contraceptives" didn't make the list.  This is a case of petty cherry picking for no other reason than to be seen to be oppressed.  I hope the courts overrule them and give them the martyrdom they so clearly desire.

I think that's a sound argument in a democracy, though it raises some other interesting moral questions.  If the majority supports slavery, then is it OK to pay taxes to subsidize the slave trade?

The question here in the U.S. is more complicated, because of the convoluted way that Obamacare is being implemented as a marketplace of regulated private insurers to choose from, rather than as a single-payer, government run health plan.  In that environment, there's less of a reason not to allow plans of different sorts to meet different needs.   An employer who opts for a plan without contraceptive coverage might offer one that provides greater coverage for neonatal services for the same price, and employees can choose not to participate and instead seek coverage through the insurance exchanges that meets their needs more closely. 

I'm generally in favor of diversity of approaches, because that is more likely to meet the needs of a greater variety of people.

Many Christians see "Thou shalt not kill" as the very reason many would cite for opposing contraception. They might see contraception as a way of murdering a being before s/he is even conceived. And then when you get to post-conception contraception such as the so-called morning after pill, that would viewed as killing a child pure and simple. 

I think the interesting question is this: If the Supreme Court agrees with the company that, due to the provisions of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, a corporate entity owned by religious people can't be forced to opt in to a program that would force them to fund an activity to which they have religious objections, what would that mean for Obamacare down the road? Would companies then be poring over insurance policies looking for provisions to object to on "religious" grounds?

Of course, the government attorneys defending Obamacare will be arguing that if the Court permits this exception, it will become a slippery slope threatening a lot more than simply Obamacare. At the same time, the Court should be making its decisions based on the law, not consequences.

So, a company owned by a Church of Christ Scientist shouldn't have to provide any health insurance.

No, there is no reasonable argument. (Which isn't to say there isn't a legal one.)
The freedom of religion provides protections against government intrusion into the practice of your religion (within reasonable limits, darn human sacrifice rules). If your business has to provide health insurance that covers, say, contraception, and you are devout catholic, then your employee may make use of the coverage to acquire contraception- which your religion would find sinful.
Here's where the argument doesn't track.
1. The faithful aren't buying insurance for their employees, the soulless corporation is.
2. The owners of the business aren't using contraception, their employees theoretically are.
3. You can't assert your religions beliefs on to someone else's actions.
4. God won't hold it against you. The law is the law, and you didn't want to go along with it but you had to. For someone to be culpable for a sin they have to do it willingly. Well they aren't providing coverage willingly, the government's making them.
5. God won't hold it against them, They aren't the ones using contraception. Gun maker's aren't culpable for your choice to shoot people. And while guns and condoms are pretty far removed the argument is the same. So if you think the this couple doesn't have to supply health care, then you also think that people don't kill people, guns do. That's right, I moved the NRA to my side, I win. (We are discussing American Politics and that's how it works.)

That's right, I moved the NRA to my side, I win.

That made me chuckle.

1. The faithful aren't buying insurance for their employees, the soulless corporation is.

I used to think that if a corporation was "soulless", it was a bad thing.

I am not making moral judgments about the law.
Say what you want, if there is a Heaven, I am pretty sure Sears isn't there. My point is that since a corporation has no soul, it has no use for religion, and thus no worries about Salvation.
I am making a religious argument why religion is dumb in this context.
Further I have to believe, being as these people are Catholic, that Jesus would want them to give some of their profits to help ensure the health of their employees and their families- regardless of contraceptive coverage.
Its just sort of baiting the Christ to argue otherwise. I mean, given what Jesus (the Biblical character) said, do you think he cares more about contraception or about ignoring the the sick and needy?
Finally, lets say their religious freedom argument wins the day, how long until every CEO becomes a Christian Scientist, or a snake handler? "Oh sorry, but I am a crazy person, you can't have immunizations."

Yeah, Sears can't go to heaven but its people could say Jesus used craftsman tools. Corporations do have use for religion. I'll prefer a soulless corporation over a consumer driven corporation that uses religion and a religious values as a marketing angle every time. I vote with my money.  Bad enough the employees have to feel the vibe. These corporations must obey the law.

 

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