On Friday, March 22, 2013, AUL’s Mary Novick and Veronika Johannsen attended the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights commission meeting and briefing. The topic of the briefing was Peaceful Coexistence? Reconciling Non-Discrimination Principles with Civil Liberties. Novick and Johannsen attended on behalf of Americans United for Life in support of religious freedom.

The briefing consisted of two panels with representatives from organizations on both sides of the debate. Each panelist was given seven minutes to share a prepared argument in front of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights committee members. The committee members presented remarks and questioned the panelists on their presentation.

Particularly relevant to the mission of AUL was the commentary surrounding the purported “accommodations” from the Obama Administration to the “preventive care” mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Edward Whelan, President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, gave a compelling testimony in support of religious freedom while exposing the true nature of President Obama’s “signature healthcare legislation”, which would require employers to provide health insurance plans provide coverage for life-ending drugs and devices including so-called “emergency contraceptives.”

Whelan commented:

“For those employers who have religious objections to providing some or all of the mandated coverage, this HHS contraception mandate clearly violates their rights under the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Even worse, it displays an illiberal contempt for the religious views of those whom it seeks to coerce.” (To read Whelan’s entire testimony, click here)

Whelan works closely with the mission of AUL and contributed as a guest panelist at AUL’s symposium on the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade this past January.

Kimberlee Colby of the Christian Legal Society and Lori Windham of the Becket Fund also provided insightful comments in support of religious freedom at the briefing.

The Commission on Civil Rights also remarked that the topic of reconciling non-discrimination principles with civil liberties has generated the most pre-hearing comments ever received by the Commission.

To learn more about AUL’s position on the Obama Administration’s healthcare mandate, click here.