Religious Groups Shocked: Trump Administration Will Defend ACA Birth Control Mandate

At its inception, one of the most egregious elements of the Affordable Care Act… aka… Obamacare, was the employer mandate to provide birth control.

It has been contentious from the start, with religious-based employers objecting to the mandate on grounds of religious beliefs.

The offensive mandate originated as a requirement for employers to cover preventative measures and for former President Obama, that meant birth control, as well.

Little Sisters of the Poor are a group of nuns who became very much a part of the story, as they fought a highly publicized battle against the Obama administration for several years to be granted an exemption from the mandate, based on their religious beliefs.

They, as well as other religious employers thought their fight would soon be over when Donald Trump won the presidency. One of Trump’s campaign promises was that he would end the mandate regarding birth control.

Unfortunately, that’s not what is happening.

In what is a disturbing case of bait-and-switch, Trump’s Department of Justice revealed on Monday that they’re still fighting those groups who want to end the birth control mandate.

According to the Star Tribune:

The Justice Department has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for an additional 60 days to negotiate with East Texas Baptist University and several other religious schools and nonprofit groups objecting to a requirement to which they are morally opposed.

Trump promised during the campaign that he’d side with the mandate’s opponents, indicating to Catholic leaders that as president he would ensure the requirement was lifted.

“I will make absolutely certain religious orders like The Little Sisters of the Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs,” Trump wrote in a letter to the Catholic Leadership Conference.

Short memory, I suppose.

For those who were certain that Trump would be the defender of Christians and religious liberty, this has to hit them the hardest, when they see that the man who publicly rejected the need for God three times would actually lie about protecting their religious liberties.

East Texas Baptist University and other plaintiffs represented by the nonprofit law firm Becket are now asking the Justice Department to drop its appeal of a district-court ruling in their favor, allowing them permanent relief from the mandate.

“This litigation has gone on long enough,” the plaintiffs wrote in a petition last week to the Fifth Circuit. “It is time for the Department of Justice to move on, and to allow the court, the universities and other religious ministries to move on as well.”

But Justice argued in its petition to the Fifth Circuit that it needs more time to litigate the case because numerous Cabinet and subcabinet positions in several federal agencies involved remain unfilled several months into the new administration.

And that may be it. Maybe they just need time to fill those Cabinet positions. When they’re full, however, is the intent to put more pressure on these religious employers, continuing the Obama-era policies, or will the effort be towards keeping his campaign promise and ending the mandate?

As things stand now, it appears that Justice plans to continue defending the way the Obama administration applied the birth-control mandate, said Eric Rassbach, a Becket attorney.

And that is unfortunate.

This is not what the people voted for.

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Susan Wright

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