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The Sliding Scale of Sin: Tyndale Publishers and Contraception Without a Co-Pay

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Written by Imani Gandy for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Recently, the district court for District of Columbia granted a request by Tyndale House Publishers to block the Affordable Care Act birth control benefit ensuring that employer-sponsored health insurance include coverage of contraception without a co-pay. ( Jessica Mason Pielko wrote about the ruling here.)

Like so many other organizations, both religious and secular, for-profit and non-profit, Tyndale's complaints are the same: the birth control benefit in the ACA infringes upon their right to religious freedom:

Tyndale and its owners are Christians who are committed to biblical principles, including the belief that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of their conception/fertilization. But Defendants' recently enacted regulatory mandate under PPACA forces Tyndale to provide and pay for drugs and devices that it and its owners believe can cause the death of human beings created in the image and likeness of God shortly after their conception/fertilization. The government's mandate exempts what it calls "religious employers," but denies that status to Tyndale House Publishers through its arbitrary definition.

What sets Tyndale apart from other companies challenging the birth control benefit, some of which have been successful in their challenges, and some of which have not, is that Tyndale is self-insured, whereas companies like Hobby Lobby purchase group health insurance plans from a commercial insurance carrier. In other words, Tyndale wholly assumes and underwrites the risk for providing health care to its employees (and pays for it out of its own coffers), while Hobby Lobby pays premiums to an outside insurance company. That it is self-insured means that Tyndale is paying directly for the insurance coverage of the contraception that it views as sinful, and the court found that this distinguishable fact rendered the birth control benefit sufficiently violative of Tyndale's right to religious freedom.  

Now, the court did not reach this decision in a vacuum, mind you. The Obama Administration's compromise with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) paved the way. 

 

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