I received an email today regarding ACLU’s decision to represent the interests of the Health and Human Services Department and Kathleen Sebelius in the lawsuit brought by O’Brien Industries of Missouri. Initially, I thought “not surprising” and proceeded to ignore the issue. Then I remembered seeing an article on National Catholic Register about a ruling in favor of Hercules Industries, a small business owned by a Catholic family, (Newland vs Sebelius) granting a permanent injunction against the HHS Mandate requirements. With that news, obviously the pro-abortion, pro-contraceptive camp has rallied to oppose a repeat ruling. So I decided to look at the actual brief to find the basis for their arguments. Much to my surprise, the brief begins by stating that the Plaintiff is seeking the ability to discriminate against women and deny them benefits based on Mr. O’Brien’s religious beliefs. Then it jumps right into a comparison of this with discrimination against African Americans in the 1960s, basically accusing this small business owner of similar bigotry. They also state that the HHS mandate “minimally-if at all-burdens religion.” Apparently Colorado District Court Judge John Kane disagrees with the ACLU’s assessment. He states in the Newland vs Sebelius ruling that despite the high hurdle required by a motion for a preliminary injunction, the Newlands had cleared that hurdle.
For an organization that has often stood on the side of religious freedom, I find it odd that the ACLU would step into this battle on the other side. One of their arguments states that denying women the ability to obtain free contraceptive and abortifacient drugs prevents them from being equal citizens in society. Really? Following that logic, men should be able to get pregnant if they desire. O’Brien Industries provides a quality health care benefit, which has not included contraceptive or abortion coverage to date (I’m still trying to figure out how this falls under the heading of preventive health care!) No one that works there has been coerced into accepting this coverage. Incredibly, the Department of Justice has responded that people of faith forfeit their religious liberty once they engage in business. Francis Manion, attorney for O’Brien, stated that Missouri currently has a contraceptive mandate in place, but exempts employers with religious objections. Manion called for the federal government to show the same respect for the religious convictions of its people.
Ironically, I still hear people asking how this is a First Amendment issue. A letter to the editor at nwi.com said it very well: “This is about government control, not birth control or women’s rights. Women are still free to obtain these amenities elsewhere.” All the spin and rhetoric surrounding the HHS mandate is just a smoke-screen to hide what’s really going on. Are we going to sit by and let it happen?