Federal Court rejects employer challenge to ACA’s contraception coverage provision
Posted on October 2, 2012 | No Comments
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri ruled on September 28, 2012 that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) requirement that employer-sponsored health care plans cover women’s preventive services, including contraception, does not violate the Religion Freedom Restoration Act or Fire Amendment Free Exercise, Establishment, or Freedom of Speech clauses in the O’Brien v. HHS case. The court’s ruling granted the Obama administration’s motion to dismiss the complaint. Judge Carol E. Jackson argued that the aforementioned regulations imposed no substantial burden on the plaintiff’s exercise of religious beliefs, and thus dismissed the complaint on its merits.
The plaintiff in the case is Frank O’Brien, the chairman and managing partner of O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC (OIH). The company engages in mining, processing, distributing refractory and ceramic materials and products. O’Brien is Catholic and brought the action action the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), claiming that his company should be exempt from the ACA contraception provision. O’Brien and OIH argued that the Religion Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) protects a person’s right to exercise his religion and that the ACA provision violates this Act.
The court argued that the “RFRA is a shield, not a sword….It protects individuals from substantial burdens on religious exercise …; it is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others.”