In an amicus brief filed last week, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) argues that requiring Hobby Lobby to pay for drugs and devices with life-ending mechanisms of action is an unconstitutional violation of its freedom of conscience.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA or “ObamaCare”) requires that employer-provided health insurance cover, without co-payment, all items that the Food and Drug Administration labels as “contraception.” However, many of these drugs or devices do not prevent conception or fertilization but rather interfere with implantation, thus ending a unique human life. The abortion-inducing drug ella can also end a life after implantation.
Hobby Lobby has been threatened with fines of $1.3 million per day for not complying with the mandate. The only way to avoid ruinous fines or participation in what it holds to be murder is to go out of business.
In the view of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Hobby Lobby does not qualify for a conscience exemption because it is a business enterprise, not a religious organization.
“The rights protected by the U.S. Constitution include the rights of individuals as well as organizations,” states AAPS executive director Jane Orient, M.D. “The government does not have the lawful power to force people to act in violation of their consciences.”
This right of conscience applies to all of life’s activities, including the conduct of business, not just to actions related to an organization that the state recognizes as a religion.
The U.S., unlike Communist China, does not have one “Protestant” and one “Catholic” church that meet the approval of the government, with others outlawed or persecuted. The U.S. government does not have the constitutional authority to define what qualifies as a church or a religion or a religious belief.
AAPS asks the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the lower court’s decision to deny an exemption.
Mailee R. Smith of Americans United for Life wrote this brief for AAPS and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, Catholic Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life, and National Association of Pro Life Nurses.
AAPS filed its own lawsuit days after the ACA was signed into law, challenging the constitutionality of forcing Americans to buy a product they did not want. AAPS v Sebelius is now on appeal in the D.C. Circuit.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943.