The Common Good

Religious Groups React to Supreme Court Health Care Ruling

Religious groups and social conservatives are reacting to the Supreme's Court's historic ruling that largely upholds President Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act. 

Sr. Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA):

"We are pleased that, based on an initial read of the ruling, the ACA has been found constitutional and will remain in effect. CHA has long supported health reform that expands access and coverage to everyone. We signed onto amicus briefs encouraging the Court to find in favor of the ACA’s individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion. As the ruling is examined, Catholic-sponsored health care providers will continue to lead health care transformation — finding new and better ways to provide compassionate, high-quality care while strengthening the communities we serve."

The Catholic Bishops of the United States urged Congress and President Obama to repair, not replace, the health care law so that it covers immigrants, includes stronger conscience protections, and ensures that it will not fund abortions -- something the law specifically bars:

"Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above.We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws."

National Catholic Reporter, a leading independent, liberal-leaning Catholic weekly:

"Court rulings since the Affordable Care Act was passed have said the law, on its face, does not provide for taxpayer-funded abortions. Yes, the U.S. bishops' conference should continue to press for a resolution on the federal mandate requiring coverage of contraceptives in health care plans that too narrowly outlines the definition of a religious employer. But that issue cannot blind the bishops, or any Catholics, to the blessings the act will bring. The U.S. bishops have supported universal health care for decades. They should not -- they cannot -- back away now."

Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, chief public policy body for the Southern Baptist Convention:

“It is astonishing that the majority of the justices did not see the bill for what it really is: a blatant violation of the personal freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and perhaps a mortal blow to the concept of federalism...When a government begins forcing citizens to purchase what it thinks is important or necessary, that government takes a dangerous step away from the freedom-embracing, democratic model."

Kathryn M. Lohre, president of the National Council of Churches:

"The member communions of the National Council of Churches have supported readily available health care since we were formed in 1950 during the Truman Administration. We as churches follow the bold example of Jesus, who healed the sick, sometimes breaking the religious law that governed society. Our members have always believed that health care is not simply another worthy cause to which we lend our name."

The Alliance Defense Fund of conservative Christian attorneys. Senior counsel Steven H. Aden:

“ObamaCare treats American citizens like subjects. This administration has used health care law to become a dictator of conscience. The court’s decision is alarming and deeply wrong. ObamaCare holds your health care hostage and offers no real choice. Either comply and abandon your religious freedom and conscience, or resist and be fined for your faith. All current ADF legal challenges to the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate will proceed, and we are confident that the Supreme Court will strike it down as unconstitutional.”

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:

"We are pleased that today’s historic ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) affords the law the opportunity to be implemented to its fullest.  We have long maintained that we cannot afford to wait any longer before fixing our broken health care system. Every other advanced country has managed to provide all its citizens with essential health care, and we must do the same. The ACA now still has the chance to help the nearly 40 million currently uninsured Americans receive coverage and the millions of underinsured see their situation improved."

Traditonal Values Coalition president Andrea Lafferty:

“Obamacare is a $1 trillion dollar tax hike on lower and middle class Americans. Americans need to understand what has just occurred.  At a stroke, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the nationalization of 18% of the United States economy, raised taxes by $1 trillion dollars, and jeopardized the American experiment through the most reckless and invasive legislation our generation has experienced."

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, an abortion rights group not affiliated with the Catholic Church:

"Catholics for Choice is pleased that the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. We are also aware, however, that the battle to ensure that individuals can make conscience-based decisions about their healthcare is not over. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has made clear that it will stop at nothing to block the ability of women and families to access contraception, even if it means derailing policies and programs that provide healthcare to those in need. CFC will continue to speak for the millions of Catholics whose views are not represented by the bishops, and who support increased access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all women and men as a matter of social justice and sound public policy."

The Susan B. Anthony List is a leading anti-abortion advocacy group. SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser:

“From the outset, Obamacare is fundamentally flawed legislation because it makes American taxpayers complicit in the deaths of countless unborn children. Today’s decision to uphold the individual mandate to force individuals to purchase health care plans that offend their conscience is incredibly disappointing. Over the last four years, President Obama has revealed his loyalty to the abortion industry. At no time was this clearer than during the health care reform debate, when he fought tenaciously for the largest expansion of taxpayer funding of abortion on demand since Roe v. Wade. As the presidential race heats up, the Susan B. Anthony List will continue to remind American voters where the President’s allegiance truly lies. We will not stop fighting until every U.S. taxpayer is freed from under-writing the abortion business.”

Conscience Cause, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization composed of leaders from various faiths and political parties:

“We are extremely disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will allow the administration to move forward in implementing its radical HHS mandate that violates our rights of conscience.  The first line of the First Amendment in our Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to religious freedom, as our forefathers intended.  Now, we have opened the door to a government that sees no limit to the amount of freedoms it can take away.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins:

"Today's Supreme Court decision will do serious harm to American families. Not only is the individual mandate a profound attack on our liberties, but it is only one section among hundreds of provisions in the law that will force taxpayers to fund abortions, violate their conscience rights, and impose a massive tax and debt burden on American families...It's now time to replace those leaders who disregarded the constitutional limitations of their authority and the deeply held religious beliefs of their constituents, voting for the government takeover of healthcare. We must repeal this abortion-funding health care law and restore the Constitution to its rightful place."

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says their suit against the Obama adminitration's contraception mandate will continue. Senior Counsel Hannah Smith: 

“The court’s opinion today did not decide the issues in our cases.“We are challenging the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate on religious liberty grounds which are not part of today’s decision. We will move forward seeking vindication of our client’s First Amendment rights.”

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum

"Today's Supreme Court ruling on ObamaCare is the worst of all outcomes. Not only are our rights being taken away and Americans are being forced to do something we don't want to do, but now we are being burdened with the biggest permanent tax increase in our nation's history."

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice advocacy group:

“We are elated. The Supreme Court has affirmed that the law is constitutional, and we know that this prolife decision will save many, many lives. This is a win for the entire nation. Knowing that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage and that young people can continue to stay on their family healthcare policies is wonderful news for every family and individual.”

Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of the evangelical group Sojourners:

"This is an important victory for millions of uninsured people in our country and ultimately a triumph of the common good. Children, young adults, and families will have access to basic health care, adding security and stability to their lives. While I believe the decision is reason to celebrate, it doesn’t mean that this legislation is somehow the flawless will of God; it is an important step in expanding health care coverage and reducing long term costs, but it still is not perfect and more work is yet to be done."

The Rev. Jennifer Butler, executive director of the liberal group Faith in Public Life: 

“The Supreme Court did the right thing for American families by upholding the Affordable Care Act. Faith leaders worked tirelessly to pass this legislation because ensuring that all Americans have quality, affordable healthcare is a moral responsibility. The religious right needs to halt their misguided campaign to repeal this law. Human life is too sacred to be jeopardized by partisan crusades.”

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international umbrella organization for Conservative rabbis:

"All people deserve access to affordable and equitable healthcare coverage, and we join other people of faith in their staunch desire for a U.S health care system that offers health, wholeness and human dignity for all. Today’s decision brings us significantly forward on that moral path, and the members of the Rabbinical Assembly will continue to promote a system of health care that is inclusive, affordable, accessible and accountable."

 Marcie Natan, national president of Hadassah, an American Jewish organization: 

"Hadassah welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, affirming our commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to quality affordable health care.

"As we have done throughout our 100-year history, Hadassah today empowers its more than 330,000 members, associates and supporters to realize their potential as a dynamic force in American society. Through that longstanding commitment to advocacy, Hadassah proudly signed an amicus curiae brief in this case supporting the Affordable Care Act."

Tom Minnery, executive director of CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family

“We are deeply disappointed that this law will continue, absent a political solution, to weaken us as a nation. It forces taxpayers to subsidize abortion, expands the size of government, and infringes on our fundamental rights of religion and conscience.

“While we can all sympathize with the aims of reducing the cost of healthcare insurance and expanding coverage to more Americans, we are not convinced that this law would accomplish those goals. We are also adamant that the threats to the preborn child and religious liberty resulting from this law are far more dangerous to this nation than anything the law purports to solve."

James Salt, executive director of the liberal group Catholics United

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the soul of America. As a nation built on the principles of community, personal responsibility and solidarity, this ruling affirms the moral fiber of this nation is strong. Catholics United is grateful the Supreme Court overcame the politics of division to serve the least among us.”

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association:

"To take steps toward providing basic care for all is a moral and spiritual imperative, and it is encouraging to see our Supreme Court justices consider the better health of the millions of Americans who benefit from the provisions of the ACA. We are thankful for their thoughtful work."

The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ

"The Supreme Court decision today is a clear signal that we as a country are moving toward the realm of God on earth – the realm of this merciful, compassionate God, full of love for all.

"Our country was founded on the ideal of caring for one another and tending to the welfare of others. Today's ruling indicates a willingness on everyone's part to be in community with each other and not allow people to be abandoned by the health care delivery system."

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly in the Presbyterian Church (USA):

"As Reformed Christians, we believe that all people possess inherent worth as children of God, and that God’s promise of abundant life extends to all. Health coverage must be available to all persons living in the United States, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, geography, age, gender, employment status, or health status. Presbyterians have worked both individually and collectively to move our nation toward a more inclusive and just system of health care – with a particular focus on persons whose health conditions or low income have created barriers to receiving needed health care. The Affordable Care Act is moving us in the right direction." 

The Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

“The court’s decision today guarantees that we will continue to bring awareness to the threat to religious liberty represented by the birth control mandate, which requires virtually all health plans, including those of religious organizations, to cover birth control drugs and products that could cause the death of the unborn. We are opposed to the birth control mandate because it runs counter to the biblical truth of the sanctity of human life and creates a conflict of conscience for religious employers and insurers, who face steep penalties for non-compliance based upon their religious convictions."

David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He writes for RNS and until recently covered the religion beat for AOL's Politics Daily. He blogs at Commonweal magazine, and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI. Via RNS.

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