Religion

Small-Businesses Claiming Religious Exemption for Obamacare Birth-Control Mandate

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It isn’t just the Congress and the Senate who are fighting about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, but small-business owners have long been an enemy of the law.

A provision in the bill states that any company that employs more than 50 people must provide health coverage or face a tax penalty. Some companies that are adhering to the letter of the law are trying to get certain exemptions, specifically for the contraception mandate, which now may be ruled on by the Supreme Court.

These businesses, such as those run by Catholics, Mennonites, or other religions that object to birth control, are claiming that the requirement to provide birth control to their employees encroaches on their religious freedom. In the early days, one of the more common myths about Obamacare was that “Muslims” were exempt from the law. This was due to a “religious conscience exemption” included in the bill that states that any group which don’t believe in any forms of insurance, including Social Security.

However, Mother Jones reports that there is a new strategy being employed that is especially relevant given that the debate is headed to the Supreme Court. There are currently 40 lawsuits filed by companies who claim that this mandate violates their religious freedom, and one involving a trucking company frequently cited the ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which found that Corporations were entitled to free speech (in this context, campaign donations).

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This is tricky legal ground since Corporations are considered “people” but are “invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” Already corporations cannot discriminate based on sexual-orientation, race, or gender, even if their objection to a certain group is based on religious beliefs. These conflicting precedents make this matter far more complicated than it may have initially seemed.