Civil rights advocate, Sean Erenstoft issues his comments on right-wing over-reach in its attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act.
Presently, lawsuits are pending before our highest courts to challenge contraception rules contained in the Affordable Care Act. Non-profit organizations closely tied to religious institutions are up-in-arms that the AC A’s requirement that they provide health insurance which may provide contraception to its employees violates the employer’s religious freedoms. Notably, the Obama administration already provided a carve-out for such employers: They can notify their insurer about their “objection,” at which point, the government provides the coverage at no cost to the employers. This buffer was intended to respect the moral challenge while providing equal access to contraception for those who require it.
Indeed, religious freedoms are not absolute and hence, institutions must pay heed to anti-discrimination and other laws designed to protect the public. For example, religious institutions cannot offer human sacrifices nor provide peyote to its penitents. The carve-out provided in the ACA was intended to provide a happy-medium that allows religious institutions a not-insignificant moral cushion.
However, litigants are claiming that the necessity of an employer to be required to “object” to the contraception provisions, itself, is a violation of its religious freedom. Hogwash! The religious right has shunned a workable solution and is in search of a problem by this litigation. Their purpose is clearly calculated to pose another hurdle to the ACA. For more information, read up on the latest news in the Zubik v. Burwell litigation which recently was remanded from the Supreme Court back to the federal appeals court with instructions for the parties to attempt a settlement. Clearly, the justices recognize the subterfuge intended by the litigation. Religious rights are not absolute rights. They must give way to equal protection concerns and the purpose of the ACA to help-thy-neighbor. Bravo!
Sean Erenstoft is a civil rights advocate with 25 years of civil rights litigation experience. Erenstoft also volunteers to assist military veterans and formed LA-Vets to ensure that our vets obtain the benefits they deserve.