Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Still Intimidated, Presumably

In a case which appears to be flying under the radar, CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears reports

The Supreme Court has ordered a federal appeals court to take another look at whether a key requirement in the health care reform law violates religious freedoms.

A pending lawsuit from the private Liberty University had claimed, among other things, that the law would lead to taxpayer dollars funding abortions and contraception, a claim the Obama administration rejects. The justices issued their order Monday.

The high court in June had upheld the overall law championed by President Obama, but left room for continued legal challenges to certain aspects of the law's application.

The Lynchburg, Virginia-based school bills itself as the largest Christian evangelical college in the world.

A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2011 unanimously concluded the university's lawsuit should be blocked on jurisdictional grounds. There is no indication when the appeals court will revisit the issue in the wake of the high court's order.

After the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act's funding mechanism -- the so-called individual mandate requiring nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty -- it tossed out all other pending appeals.

Liberty University then refiled its lawsuit, saying its objections to the law should be reconsidered in light of the court's 5-4 ruling affirming the overall law.

The school believes Americans should not be required to purchase health insurance -- and employers forced to provide it -- if there are legitimate moral and religious objections to some provisions.

The Administration doesn't have clean hands here.  Eleven months ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rejected the advice of the Food and Drug Administration and ruled that Plan B One-Step, the contraception available over-the-counter to females 17 years of age and over, would not be made available for younger girls without a prescription.   As Digby observes

Even the president decided that it would be better for young girls to get pregnant than have easy access to birth control. The conservatives nearly had a mass nervous breakdown at the mere idea that anyone would "condone" birth control among those who are the most likely to have unprotected sex. 

Somehow, the right has managed to equate in the minds of a large swath of Americans the idea that birth control and abortion are synonymous, or nearly so.   That flies in the face logic- and of the recent report revealing

Providing birth control to women at no cost substantially reduced unplanned pregnancies and cut abortion rates by a range of 62-78 percent compared to the national rate, a new study shows.  The research, by investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, appears online Oct. 4 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Among a range of birth control methods offered in the study, most women chose long-acting methods like intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants, which have lower failure rates than commonly used birth control pills. In the United States, IUDs and implants have high up-front costs that sometimes aren’t covered by health insurance, making these methods unaffordable for many women.

“This study shows that by removing barriers to highly-effective contraceptive methods such as IUDs and implants, we can reduce unintended pregnancies and the need for abortions,” says lead author Jeff Peipert, MD, PhD, the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

According to The New York Times, When Sebelius made her apparently politically expedient decision contradicting scientific advice, it "avoided what could have been a bruising political battle over parental control and contraception  during a presidential election season."

Surely, now that the President, safely re-elected to his last term as president (or any elective office), the progressive most of his supporters believe he is will come out of the closet.  

Not yet, anyway.  Mears writes (emphasis mine)

It is one of several dozen pending lawsuits around the country filed to challenge the law's application since the June decision. The Richmond-based appeals court taking on the Liberty University case could ask both the federal government and the school to submit updated legal arguments. The Obama administration did not object to the university asking for another chance to press its claims.

Of course it didn't.  In this administration, whether it's the Justice Department, HHS, or the President himself, no conservative antagonist is too hostile that it can't be appeased.

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