Nov

18

2012

Joe Carter|11:29 PM CT

Court Sides with Bible Publisher Challenging Abortion Pill Mandate

The Story: On Friday a federal court stopped enforcement of the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate against Tyndale House Publishers, the world's largest privately held Christian publisher of Bibles.

The Background: The Obama administration had argued that Tyndale House Publishers isn't religious enough for an exemption from the mandate, a component of the Affordable Care Act that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.

But in its opinion accompanying a preliminary injunction order in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, the court wrote:

. . . the beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable . . . Christian principles, prayer, and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company's ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission. The Court has no reason to doubt, moreover, that Tyndale's religious objection to providing insurance coverage for certain contraceptives reflects the beliefs of Tyndale's owners. Nor is there any dispute that Tyndale's primary owner, the Foundation, can "exercise religion" in its own right, given that it is a non-profit religious organization; indeed, the case law is replete with examples of such organizations asserting cognizable free exercise and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges.

The court's order is the third nationwide against the mandate.

Why It Matters: "Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish," said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization representing Tyndale in the case

"For the government to say that a Bible publisher is not religious is startling," Bowman adds. "It demonstrates how clearly the Obama administration is willing to disregard the Constitution's protection of religious freedom to achieve certain political purposes."

Related:

Contraceptive Mandate Challenge Thrown Out by Federal Judge

The FAQs: Updates on the Contraceptive-Abortifacient Mandate

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Noteworthy
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  • Kyle Grant

    There is still something unsettling about the premise that an institution must be 'religious' to qualify for an exemption. If I own a plumbing company and hire plumbers I should not be required to provide a benefit that offends my conscience.

    • Phil

      Kyle,

      What you are proposing is a radical overhaul of our healthcare system that goes way, way beyond "Obamacare."

      If we want Employers to no longer be responsible for providing healthcare (what you are, in effect, proposing since every owner can define what "offends his/her conscience") then we would have to move to an entirely different system. (Possibly single payer?)

      • dwk

        That's not true. There's a stark difference between providing "health care" as it has been defined for the last 60 years, and this. A "radical overhaul" (of the kind you're describing) isn't necessary until the government mandates something it knows full well will violate the conscience of a large portion of its citizens.

        What aspect of health care before this has offended the conscience of employers?

        • Phil

          DWK,

          I was referring to Kyle's statement that the only criterion for NOT providing some aspect of healthcare is "what offends [the owner's] conscience."

          This is an unworkable standard. For obvious reasons.

          Allowing owners to pick and choose which aspects of health care to cover (or, by extension, health care at all)--dictated only by the owner's conscience--means an end to the system as we know it.

          • dwk

            It's only an unworkable standard if you accept the premise that forcing employers to cover abortion/ contraception falls under "health care". This mandate violates the right of citizens to exercise the practical out-workings of their faith. If there's an "unworkable standard" in all of this, that's it.

            No reasonable person would have an issue of conscience over actual health care.

            • Phil

              That's not true. Lots of people have issues of conscience over actual health care.

              Here are some examples: A devout Muslim (who is against any form of insurance); A devout Christian Scientist; A devout Scientologist (with regard to psychiatric conditions).

              [Indeed, I'd be willing to bet that many (most?) sufficiently devout believers of any faith have strong feelings about how "God" relates to Health and Health Care. (What about end of life care?) Surely such sufficiently devout owners have opinions about what is "proper" Health Care?]

              My point was very narrow. It was simply that Kyle's blanket statement that "an owner's conscience" is the sole determinant as to whether a certain health care benefit should be provided, was not the proper criterion.

              Or, if you honestly believe it is the proper criterion, then you should (IMHO) be in favor of a radical overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system; an overhaul that removes these decisions from the owners of companies, so they aren't put in this position.

              [Indeed, (if I remember correctly) I believe we are the ONLY western country with health care structured this way--where you get your health care provider/insurance company through your employer.]

            • dwk

              I meant health insurance, and I think you know that. I also think you know what Kyle meant.

            • Phil

              Lots of people have problems with health insurance too. I have no idea why "health insurance" changes anything, or why you think it does.

              It "offends my conscience" that people pay so much in health care costs at the end of life, unlike doctors. See

              http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203918304577243321242833962.html

              http://ideas.time.com/2012/01/16/what-doctors-know-and-we-can-learn-about-dying/?xid=gonewsedit

              If I was in charge of health care decisions, because I owned a company, I wouldn't let people do that. I would want them to die like doctors. And everyone would "benefit." (And, as a bonus, I would have lower premiums, too.) Really, why should I (as the owner of a company) have to pay for insurance that covers unnecessary end of life care?

            • JK

              Umm, Phil? Most of us are covered by self insured employers, preempted from state mandates by ERISA and so, prior to ACA, can cover whatever they want. Under ACA, employers with >50 employees still choose whether to "pay or play" for their full time employees. Further, health insurance is just like any other benefit--employers use it to attract and retain employees. Evidence indicates that employees, not employers, pay for health insurance--the higher their health insurance costs, the lower their cash wages (but their total compensation stays unchanged). This is a nonpartisan well-established fact.

    • http://thegospelcoalition.org/ Joe Carter

      I'm with you on that, Kyle.

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  • Linda

    What about individual Christians? Shouldn't we be able to NOT pay for the abortion pill? How can we ban together and refute this mandate on us?

    • http://thegospelcoalition.org/ Joe Carter

      While I think it is important for individuals to work together to challenge the mandate, I hope we are motivated to do more than that. Rather than having to fight for our freedoms on a case-by-case, issue-by-issue basis, I think we need to band together in order to more broadly defend our religious liberties.

      One of the reasons TGC has written so frequently about the issue lately is because too many Christians are unaware of how religious liberties are being eroded. The HHS mandate is just the beginning of problems that we will see in the future. We've allowed faith to be pushed out of the public square and are beginning to suffer the repercussions.

  • http://www.apoorwretch.com Seth Fuller

    Good news for Tyndale! Their convictional stand is encouraging. Thanks for reporting this Joe.

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  • Pastor Peter Charlebois

    "...This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
    That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet."

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  • Joyce

    Abortion pills are the foot in the door for paying for partial-birth abortions. Next will be sex-change costs (already provided to prisoners). After all, those folks believe it is central to their lives and just as convenient, if not more, than an abortion.
    Paying for contraceptives and abortion pills should be the responsibility of the individual. That they are available is not the subject, as the other side seems to think. No one is stopping anyone from purchasing this type of "health care" on their own.

  • https://www.summitmedicalcenters.com/ Dana Caffrey

    Because abortion is against Christian faith, the implementation of the Obama health care has raised many issues. I believe that freedom of choice is given to everybody coz not all is pleased with that law.

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