The individual mandate not only forces individuals into private purchases, it also effectively mandates personal payments for surgical abortion coverage without exemption for individual’s religious or moral objections. This is the argument presented by seven medical organizations in an amicus brief filed Monday in the U.S. Supreme Court by lead counsel Bioethics Defense Fund (BDF), along with several leading public-interest legal organizations.
BDF’s Supreme Court filing presents a novel argument based on the Obamacare Act’s lack of conscience protections. BDF president and general counsel Nikolas T. Nikas pointed to the brief’s visual imagery: “Like a Russian nesting doll, the individual mandate has nestled within it a hidden, but equally unconstitutional scheme that effectively imposes an ‘abortion premium mandate’ that violates the free exercise rights of millions of Americans who have religious objections to abortion.”
Set to go into effect in 2014, the unconstitutional provisions found in Section 1303 of the Obamacare Act compel enrollees in certain health plans to pay a separate abortion premium from their own pocket, without the ability to decline abortion coverage based on religious or moral objection.
According to BDF senior counsel Dorinda Bordlee, “the recently implemented HHS contraceptive mandate is simply another aspect of Obamacare in action.” The amicus brief filed on Monday informs the Supreme Court that “[e]ven beyond the recent HHS mandate, the abortion premium mandate provisions found in the original Act are sufficient alone to substantially burden [Americans’] free exercise of religion.”
Nikas referenced the opportune timing of the Court’s briefing schedule, noting, “Bioethics Defense Fund and our co-counsel are pleased at this critical point to call the Court’s attention to the direct assault on religious liberty effected by both the abortion premium mandate found in the Act itself, as well as this first of many HHS mandates that the Act authorizes the Secretary of Health to implement without congressional approval.”
Bioethics Defense Fund counsel developed the novel argument when the brief was first filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of 26 state attorneys general. The theory was developed with the assistance of co-counsel Mark Rienzi, senior counsel of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and associate law professor at the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America. Additional co-counsel on the Supreme Court brief include Alliance Defense Fund, Americans United for Life, and Life Legal Defense Foundation.
The seven pro-life medical organizations represented as friends-of-the-court include American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical and Dental Association, American Assoc. of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Catholic Medical Association, Physicians for Life, National Assoc. of Prolife Nurses, and Medical Students for Life of America.
Read the brief here.
Dorinda was recently on the Laura Ingraham show discussing the BDF brief and the Obamacare “abortion premium mandate.” Click here for audio of that interview.