Last week, attorneys for the United States Department of Health and Human Services filed a document in a civil lawsuit by a Missouri legislator to support the Department's motion for summary judgment that reiterated the same arguments previously rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
The Thomas More Society is representing Missouri State Senator Paul Wieland and his wife, Teresa Wieland, in Wieland v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defending the Wieland family against the Affordable Care Act's controversial contraceptive mandate and the substantial religious burden it places on them.
The lawsuit, in its simplest form, is the individual state employee's version of the well-publicized Hobby Lobby case in which the United States Supreme Court rejected Obamacare's infringement on religious rights. The Eighth Circuit soundly rejected the United States government's position and sent the case back down to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
In response to the Obama administration's rehashing the same argument already deemed already rejected by the United States Supreme Court, Thomas More Society Special Counsel Timothy Belz stated, "The government is grasping at straws in their argument. The Eighth Circuit agreed with the Wielands that the contraceptive mandate is indeed a substantial religious burden on them, and if an injunction is granted in their favor, then the state-run insurance company would be required under state law to provide a contraceptive-free policy. The court has also disposed of the government's other argument—that the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate survives strict scrutiny. The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Sharpe Holdings, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decisions hold that the government flunks the strict scrutiny test."
Wieland and his wife, Teresa, like the owners of Hobby Lobby and Sharpe Holdings, object on religious grounds to mandated insurance coverage for contraceptives—which includes abortifacients such as Plan B and Ella as well as sterilization. The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act assures them of religious liberty that cannot be federally usurped. The Wielands previously had exemption clauses in their policy, which were available to any employee, and easily accommodated by the insurance company, but that is something the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge.
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