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ADF to Vt. court: Paying for abortions should not be prerequisite for health care

ADF attorney available to media following oral arguments Thursday
Published On: 10/18/2017

WHO: ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox

WHAT: Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Howe v. Burwell

WHEN: Thursday, April 9, immediately following hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. EDT

WHERE: U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, Courtroom 542, 11 Elmwood Ave., #410, Burlington


BURLINGTON, Vt. – Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox will be available for media interviews immediately following his oral argument Thursday before the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in a legal challenge to an Obamacare surcharge that forces people to pay for elective abortion coverage.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit against the Obama administration and state exchange officers in January after a pro-life Vermont man, Lyle Howe, Jr., lost his private health plan due to Obamacare and was forced on to the state exchange. Under Obamacare, every health insurance exchange plan in Vermont requires individuals to directly pay a “separate payment” to cover elective abortions.

“Americans should have access to health care without being secretly coerced into paying for elective abortions and violating their deepest convictions,” said Mattox. “The Constitution, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and state law prohibit this type of government coercion. We hope the court will stop the federal and state governments from needlessly trampling on First Amendment freedoms.”

The lawsuit, Howe v. Burwell, also challenges 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.

“Mr. Howe, as a sixty-three year old man with no dependents does not need, and for reasons of religious exercise would never use, abortion coverage,” the ADF reply brief filed in the case on April 3 explains. “Defendants have made no accommodation despite the examples in other states where federal and state officials have worked to provide options to avoid the burdens being imposed on citizens like Mr. Howe.”

The case was filed the same day that ADF filed another case in Rhode Island, Doe v. Burwell,where Obamacare officials gave an HIV-positive man no choice but to enroll in a plan requiring a separate abortion payment or go without health care coverage. Last fall, Connecticut and federal officials provided plans that do not require an abortion payment after ADF filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in that state.

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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