Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dobson's Family Talk Wins Preliminary Injunction Against ACA Contraceptive Coverage Rules

In Dobson v. Sebelius, (D CO, April 17, 2014), a Colorado federal district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate against James Dobson's religious non-profit Family Talk.  The court concluded that the ACA regulations which allow religious non-profits to opt out, and call for contraceptive coverage to then be furnished directly by insurers or third party administrators, do not eliminate the free exercise burden:
Here, any myopic focus on the brevity of the Exemption Form and its ease of completion misses the mark. It is the de facto forced facilitation of the objectionable coverage that is religiously repugnant to the plaintiffs. The resultant moral abhorrence is not effectively extenuated by a transfer of responsibility via an Exemption Form from the plaintiffs to the TPA. For the plaintiffs, such legal legerdemain does not expiate the morally unacceptable means or end. The transformation of moral culpability from plaintiffs as principals to aiders and abettors does not absolve the plaintiffs from their immutable moral responsibility. Such a compelled concession – even by an ostensibly innocuous legal prophylactic – does not ameliorate the moral ignominy and obliquity created by the pressured participation in the process.
Further, it is of no moment that ultimately the decision by an employee to elect the objectionable coverage is optional. To the plaintiffs, it is the offer per se that is morally offensive regardless of the extent of its acceptance.
Thus, I conclude ultimately that there is a substantial likelihood that the plaintiffs can show that the pressure to execute the Exemption Form imposed on them by the ACA and the concomitant regulations constitutes impermissible pressure to act in violation of their religious beliefs.
Christian Post reports on the decision. (See prior related posting.)