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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So @Thomas, if as CEO of a soulless corporation you fund your employees to dump toxic waste into the river, are you not morally culpable?

1. The CEO isn't doing it, the soulless corporation is.

2. The owners/stockholders aren't doing it, their employees are.

3. We can't assert our moral beliefs on someone else's actions.

Number 4 and 5 I'll leave off because they're inconsistent with almost all theist morality, though I really liked the NRA parallel!

I think these are hard questions, because competing rights are in play, as well as complications of public policy.  A religious exemption, if sustained, does put a BIG hole in Obamacare potentially, for exactly the reason several have suggested:  in the U.S., it's considered OK to game the system and masquerade as a religious objector when you're just looking to save money.

I am not sure about the legality of this in regards to religious freedom , but i do know what their bible has to say on this. And that is that he should still pay.

"All three synoptic gospels state that hostile questioners tried to trap Jesus into taking an explicit and dangerous stand on whether Jews should or should not pay taxes to the Roman  authorities.

The accounts in Mathew 22:15-22 and Mark 12:13-17 say that the questioners were Pharisees  and Herodians , while Luke 20:20-26 says only that they were "spies" sent by "teachers of the law and the chief priests".

They anticipated that Jesus would oppose the tax, as their purpose was "to hand him over to the power and authority of the governor". The governor was Pilate , and he was the man responsible for the collecting of taxes in Roman Judea . At first the questioners flattered Jesus by praising his integrity, impartiality, and devotion to truth. Then they asked him whether or not it is right for Jews to pay the taxes demanded by Caesar. In the Gospel of Mark  the additional, provocative question is asked, "Should we pay or shouldn't we?"

Jesus first called them hypocrites, and then asked one of them to produce a Roman coin that would be suitable for paying Caesar's tax. One of them showed him a Roman coin , and he asked them whose name and inscription were on it. They answered, "Caesar's," and he responded: "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's"."- wikipedia

And Romans 13:1 "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

What a miserable verse.  Any government could use it to enslave their citizens.

So what would be the point of passing a bill designed to take care of individual workers, if the management of the organization can arbitrarily bypass it without regards for the beliefs of the worker? That's so Theist it's not even funny.

I think the employees would still have the option of doing an end run around their employer and getting likely better insurance through Obamacare. Of course, then I assume there'd be no employer contribution.

I really think that eventually we should get corporations out of the business of supplying health insurance for their employees. It's what took the healthcare system off the rails in the first place.

Since the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are "people" I think that a company could make a very good case for freedom of religion.  Do I think that they should be able to opt out?  No.  

No, only for financial reasons

Never mind the exceptions or the other efforts to bypass this, I still think obamacare is just basically wrong. But I suppose that doesn't stop the government and people from wanting something of that nature. Whatever happened to freedom in this country, or is, (seems to have always been) a joke? What about freedom of choice? Why do we need the IRS to come down on us if we don't obey? That's freedom? Sounds a bit like the tyranny of the church to me. Do it or else.

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him" - Robert Heinlein

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him" - Robert Heinlein

That statement has difficulty in a tax-based democratic society.

First, this is not a democracy, and do you really want a tax based society where you get many things for your money that you never asked for and most can't use and pay the government to play Robin Hood for other people to benefit from your hard work?

Yes, for the same reason I buy auto insurance. Not just to protect me from claims but also to make sure anyone I injure is taken care of as well as possible even if I can't help them out of my pocket.

I guess the question is this: are you part of the community or are you not.

Also, I should point out that Obama care is a backup plan for anyone who who loses their current insurance. You might get fired and find that COBRA insurance is too expensive and that you can get much better insurance for less (or even nothing) through Obamacare.

I use my county library more than most and believe it to be a worthwhile asset for the local communities. Would it be fair to only tax those who choose to use the library for the resource that it is? No. 

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