Another federal judge has ruled against Obamacare’s contraception mandate, which requires most insurers to provide contraceptive coverage to employees. For the second time this week, a court found that the Affordable Care Act’s exemptions for religious organizations aren’t broad enough; as a result, two Texas schools — East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University — won’t have to cover contraception or medically-induced abortions in the insurance plans they offer school employees.
U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal agreed with the universities’ contention that that the contraception mandate imposes “a substantial burden on the freedom to follow the commands on their religion.”
“The religious organization plaintiffs have shown a sincerely held religious belief that the court cannot second-guess,” Rosenthal wrote. “The plaintiffs have also shown that if they do not comply with a certain requirement that they believe offends that belief, they will face onerous fines.”
The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate has undergone a number of changes. It originally required all employers to cover the cost of contraceptives, but after religious groups strenuously objected, the Health and Human Services Department carved out an exemption for religious organizations. That exemption absolves the organizations themselves of the actual costs of contraception, but still requires them to offer coverage that includes contraceptives.
The Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the contraception mandate during its next term.