Family Research Council

Uphold religious liberty

By Cathy Ruse Senior Fellow - Legal Studies

Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in USA Today on March 25, 2014.


Millions of Americans are losing their health plans as Obamacare takes effect. Waiting for your cancellation notice has become the modern-day equivalent of waiting for your draft number to come up.

The Department of Health and Human Services' mandate of early abortion pill and birth control coverage will only make things worse. It threatens the jobs, health plans and livelihood of millions of Americans.

Here's how: This regulation makes employers pay enormous fines for omitting even one mandated item from their health plans. Hobby Lobby, which asked the Supreme Court for relief on Tuesday, would be forced to pay $1.3 million every single day.

That's a job killer.

The Green family, which founded Hobby Lobby, is quite willing to cover the vast majority of preventive services mandated by the new law. But they have a sincere religious objection to providing coverage of items that can destroy human life at its earliest stages.

A Mennonite family that shares the same beliefs was in court with Hobby Lobby, and many similar family businesses are watching to see what the court decides.

A decision for the Obamacare regulation would impose a terrible choice on these family businesses: to abandon their religious beliefs or to honor their consciences and pay crippling fines. Omitting any mandated item from coverage will result in even the smallest business affected by the mandate having to pay $1.8 million in fines every year. What small business can shoulder a penalty like that without firing people? Many might simply close.

The regulation gives these businesses another terrible choice - to drop employee health insurance altogether. This would trigger endless annual penalties for the business, and its employees would lose their health plans and their trusted doctors.

The Obama administration has already let millions of individual insurance policies off the hook for reasons far less compelling, a fact the justices noted at oral argument. Yet it fought these family businesses all the way to the Supreme Court.

Respecting conscience is a tradition Americans hold dear. We should not abandon that tradition now.