Today the Supreme Court ruled that the so-called “individual mandate — the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires individuals to purchase a health plan — was constitutional under Congress’ powers to tax.
This decision will allow the enactment of the ACA to proceed — and that is not without implications for religious liberty.
According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, two important issues to remember are these:
First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. The risk identified in this area has already materialized, particularly in the initial approval by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of “high risk” insurance pools that would have covered abortion.
Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. . . . The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA’s new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS’s “preventive services” mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.
The Bishops in their statement today urged Congress to pass and the administration to sign legislation to fix those flaws.