D.C. Circuit Court Backs Faith-Based Challenge to PPACA Contraception Mandate, Widening Split Among Courts
Breaking with other circuit courts' recent decisions, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled healthcare reform's so-called "contraception mandate" may violate business owners' religious freedom.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all group health plans and health insurance issuers must provide, without cost-sharing, reproductive preventive care including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and services, as well as patient education and counseling.
The D.C. circuit court recently heard a case brought forth by Francis and Philip Gilardi, owners of Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics and adherents to the Catholic faith. The brothers' suit alleged the mandate limits their religious freedom and violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A district court dismissed the case, so the brothers appealed to the D.C. circuit.
A divided three-judge panel ultimately supported the brothers' case. "We must
determine whether the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Act trammels the right of free exercise — a right that lies at the core of our constitutional liberties — as protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. We conclude it does," wrote Judge Janice Rogers Brown.
Currently, two circuit courts have supported challenges to the contraception mandate, and two have ruled against such challenges, paving the way for Supreme Court intervention, according to a Washington Times report.
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