- A federal judge made the decision this week to exempt employers with moral objections from the ACA mandate to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives. Previously, exemptions only existed for religious objections by religious groups and affiliates.
- The case was brought by March for Life, a nonreligious pro-life organization that opposes forms of contraception that it equates with abortion, including hormonal birth control, IUDs and emergency contraceptives.
- The ruling can be expected to raise questions about how to determine what other organizations should qualify for the exemption based on their orientation toward moral objection.
Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia reasoned moral philosophy should be treated on par with religious belief, and to afford exemptions only to religious groups amounted to “regulatory favoritism.” That opens a broad new door for employers to exempt contraception coverage.
“The characteristic that warrants protection — an employment relationship based in part on a shared objection to abortifacients — is altogether separate from theism. Stated differently, what HHS claims to be protecting is religious beliefs, when it actually is protecting a moral philosophy about the sanctity of life,” Leon wrote.
HHS had argued in court documents the decision could result in an administrative mess through the creation of countless new insurance plans aimed at offering inoffensive options. A government appeal is almost certain.