PROVIDENCE, R.I. and BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – An HIV-positive man in Rhode Island and another pro-life advocate in Vermont have filed suit in federal court because Obamacare forces them to pay for other people’s elective abortions in order to obtain health care through their state exchanges.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the two pro-life individuals filed the two lawsuits in federal court Tuesday. Under Obamacare, every health insurance exchange plan in Rhode Island and Vermont requires individuals to directly pay a surcharge to cover elective abortions for those in the exchange.
“Paying for elective abortions should never be a prerequisite for access to health care,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “Neither the Constitution nor federal and state law allow for this type of government coercion. The Obama administration may not value constitutionally protected freedoms, but both federal and state law do. We are asking the court to stop Obamacare officials from running roughshod over these individuals’ rights.”
The lawsuits also challenge secrecy clauses within Obamacare which forbid Americans from being told prior to enrollment whether the plans they would purchase on an exchange will include abortion coverage and a hidden separate payment for abortions. The clauses also forbid Americans from being told how much of the premium is a federally mandated abortion surcharge that pays exclusively for other people’s elective abortions.
Alan Lyle Howe, Jr., of Vermont and another plaintiff in Rhode Island each lost their health plans under Obamacare and were forced on to the exchange plans in their respective states. Both are Christian pro-life advocates who are in critical need of health insurance coverage but do not want to compromise their beliefs. The Rhode Island plaintiff is remaining anonymous because he is HIV-positive.
The lawsuits, Howe v. Burwell and Doe v. Burwell, explain that federal law forbids taxpayer subsidies for elective abortions; however, the Affordable Care Act requires every exchange plan that includes abortion to collect a separate fee that is used exclusively to pay for abortions. The ACA further forbids disclosure of the abortion surcharge to customers.
“The government cannot strong-arm Americans from choosing between their health and their values,” added ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “Pro-life individuals should be free to obtain the healthcare they need without having to violate their deepest convictions, and the administration should honor its vow to be the most transparent in history by ending its efforts to keep Americans in the dark about what they are paying for.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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