March for Life wins groundbreaking case against Obamacare
by Bob Brown
Posted 9/01/15, 12:05 pm
A federal court ruled yesterday the organization that runs the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., does not have to provide health insurance plans that pay for contraceptive drugs and devices. In March for Life v. Burwell, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon issued an order permanently prohibiting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from requiring March for Life Education and Defense Fund’s health insurer to include contraceptive coverage in any employee health plan.
The ruling is the first of its kind in favor of an organization opposed to the mandate for reasons of pro-life, moral opposition instead of religion, according to Alliance Defending Freedom, legal counsel for March for Life.
In a complaint filed in July 2014, March for Life contended the Affordable Care Act required the pro-life organization to “pay for health coverage of items that destroy human embryos early in their development … in direct contradiction to the March for Life’s principles about protecting human life at all stages.”
In his decision, Leon found HHS’s regulations exempting contraceptive coverage for “houses of worship” are actually based on “protecting a moral philosophy about the sanctity of human life,” not on protecting religious beliefs. HHS erred, according to Leon, by assuming objections to abortifacients are unique to religiously affiliated employers.
“If the purpose of the religious employer exemption is, as HHS states, to respect the anti-abortifacient tenets of an employment relationship,” Leon wrote, “then it makes no rational sense—indeed, no sense whatsoever—to deny March for Life that same respect.”
March for Life president Jeanne Mancini said her organization was delighted with the court’s ruling. Since Jan. 22, 1974, the first anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, March for Life has organized annual pro-life rallies in the nation’s capital.
Bob is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute’s mid-career course.