Religious Liberty, Conscience, and the Affordable Care Act
Holly Fernandez Lynch
Petrie-Flom Center, Harvard Law School
March 1, 2013
Holly Fernandez Lynch, "Religious Liberty, Conscience, and the Affordable Care Act," ETHICAL PERSPECTIVES, Vol. 20, No. (1) pp. 118-131 (2013)
Broadly applicable legal requirements often come into conflict with moral or religious standards that individuals and organizations feel more strongly compelled to obey. Making room for such moral and religious standards in secular society is important, but can be difficult, since any exemptions or accommodations cannot be allowed frustrate the purpose of the general law, and must also be fair to those who remain subject to it without any special arrangements.
This essay briefly surveys the ways in which the Affordable Care Act might come into conflict with moral and religious beliefs held by both individuals and institutions, and describes the government accommodations that have been offered or considered to date. In particular, it focuses on the requirement that employers offer insurance coverage for free contraceptives and the requirement that individuals purchase insurance coverage that may include services they find objectionable. In both cases, I conclude that the proffered accommodations should be altered to enhance fairness as between objectors and non-objectors.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: Affordable Care Act, insurance, conscience, religious freedom, contraceptives, complicity
Date posted: April 1, 2013