Priests' Obamacare Contraception Mandate Appeal Heard - DC Circuit
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Priests' Obamacare Contraception Mandate Appeal Heard

As the country awaits the Supreme Court's decisions in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga regarding the Obamacare contraception mandates, related cases are making their way through circuit courts around the country.

While Hobby Lobby and Conestoga deal with secular, for-profit corporations and their ability to "exercise religion," another emerging trend in contraception mandate cases will likely be the next Obamacare case before the Court.

Priests and the Contraception Mandate "Opt Out"

While the Supreme Court will decide the fate of for-profit, secular companies, the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate already accommodates non-profit organizations with religious objections to the law. The organization must simply fill out a self-certification form stating a religious objection, and the organization will be exempt from the mandate.

However, religious non-profits have a problem with what occurs afterward: contraception mandate coverage will be provided to women directly from the insurer. But according to plaintiffs here, Priests for Life, though they don't have religious objections to filling out the self-certification form, they allege that what occurs afterward violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the First and Fifth Amendments.

Self-Certification Review by Court of Appeals

In December, the District Court for the District of Columbia granted the Government's motion to dismiss all of the plaintiffs' claims. Last Thursday, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals became the first circuit court to hear the case on the merits (other circuits have only decided whether to grant an injunction), says World Magazine. While National Director of Priests for Life Fr. Frank Pavone characterizes the case as "a battle of biblical proportions," many see it as simply another attempt to prevent women from accessing affordable health care.

A decision will likely follow the Supreme Court's ruling in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, according to World Magazine. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the contraception mandate cases by the summer.

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