RH Reality Check, By Jessica Mason Pieklo, June 23
Religious conservatives challenging the accommodation process for employers to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit have lost yet another legal battle, this time in the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A unanimous panel of judges on Monday ruled that the plaintiffs in East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell, a consolidated group of cases involving religiously affiliated employers who object to providing health insurance coverage for some or all forms of contraception, were not substantially burdened by completing an opt-out form that triggers third party contraceptive coverage for employees who want it.
The plaintiffs in East Texas Baptist University argue that the task of completing the government’s form that self-certifies them as religious employers—and eligible for an accommodation to the benefit—“triggers” or “facilitates” the ability of their employees to get contraceptive coverage elsewhere.
That, the plaintiffs argue, makes them complicit in what they believe to be a sinful act: supporting contraception generally.
On Monday the Fifth Circuit joined the Third, Seventh, and D.C. Circuits in flatly rejecting that argument.
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