(CNSNews.com) – The Media Research Center (MRC), a non-profit group that monitors liberal bias in the news media, announced today that it was ending its lawsuit to block the Obamacare contraceptive mandate because the organization is a self-certified religious entity and the federal government, through an Agreed Order of Dismissal, has affirmed “that it is not now enforcing, and has no plans to penalize or enforce the contraceptive mandate against the MRC,” reads a press release from the MRC.
“The Agreed Order of Dismissal is a major victory not only for the MRC, but any organization that believes in freedom of religion and the conscience rights of individuals to operate their enterprises free from the threat of government reprisal,” said MRC Founder and President Brent Bozell. “With this agreement, the MRC and its employees will continue to live and work according to our values and our firmly held belief that all human life is sacred.”
The regulation, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, says that nearly all companies with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, such as ella and Plan B, without co-payments.
The MRC, which has about 60 employees and is the parent organization of CNSNews.com, says the contraceptive mandate violates its religious beliefs. Back in May, the non-profit group said, “For nearly three decades, the MRC has been the nation’s premier defender of pro-life views and Judeo-Christian values from attacks by the liberal media.”
Its president and other employees “practice and live by Judeo-Christian values, and believe abortion, whether through the actions of an abortionist or a drug, is the taking of innocent human life,” said the MRC. “Under the First Amendment, the MRC and its employees have the right to practice and abide by their faith in their everyday lives including in the operations of their mission-oriented non-profit organization.”
Under the rules of the contraceptive mandate, churches, other “official” religious institutions, and “eligible organizations” are allowed to exempt themselves from the mandate through a “self-certification” process.
An employer can self-certify as an “eligible organization” if it opposes part or all of the mandate on religious grounds; operates as a non-profit; and holds itself out as a religious organization.
The MRC completed that “self-certification” but also filed suit against the HHS in April, asking the federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia to formally declare that the non-profit was exempt as an “eligible organization” because it is a religious group, a ruling that would also protect the MRC from crippling fines.
If an employer is not exempt from the contraceptive regulation, it must comply or face daily fines of $100 per employee. For the MRC, that potentially amounts to $4,562,000 a year. But the Agreed Order of Dismissal, according to the Oct. 6 press statement, “confirms that there is no imminent threat to the MRC from the government and leaves the MRC free to reopen the suit should the government challenge the MRC’s self-declared exemption in the future.”
“The MRC contends that under ACA rules, it has self-certified that it is exempt from the mandate,” reads the statement. “The MRC is the first organization that asked the court to affirm its ‘self-certification.’”
The MRC first argued its case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in mid-May. The judge decided to delay his ruling at the time, and today, Oct. 6, the MRC announced that it had entered into the Agreed Order of Dismissal with the HHS.