(LifeSiteNews) – On September 7, a federal judge in Texas ruled that a Christian business was exempt from the government mandate to cover certain HIV-preventive drugs for employees.
Braidwood Management Inc., which is owned by Steven Hotze and oversees Hotze Health and Wellness Center, took legal action in 2020 against a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which requires coverage for contraceptives and PrEP drugs. Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in agreement with Hotze, stating that this provision violates the religious freedom of the Christian company.
According to the court order, Braidwood brought up several complaints about the ACA mandates, including denying Braidwood “of the ability to choose whether and to what extent its insurance plan covers preventive care” and forcing the company “to underwrite coverage for services to which it holds sincere religious objections.”
“Hotze wants Braidwood’s plan to exclude or limit coverage for the preventive care services,” the report states. “But Braidwood cannot exclude coverage for those services without violating the law.”
“Because Braidwood self-insures, Hotze believes that offering coverage is itself a tacit endorsement of the behaviors that he believes the services encourage,” it adds.
Beyond the religious grounds of complaint, Hotze detailed the repercussions his company faces “for failing to comply with the mandates.” Braidwood must pay “$100 per day for each employee not covered in accordance with the ACA.” The combination of the complaints led the judge to rule that “requiring religious employers to choose between complying with a service coverage mandate and paying a penalty imposes a substantial burden on religious freedom, and an injury in fact.”
O’Connor further stated that he found the “counterarguments … unpersuasive” because the ACA provision in question “requires Braidwood to cover services it does not wish to cover for both religious and non-religious reasons.” He dismissed the argument that the company “waived all claims of injury based on its religious objections” and declared that the “religious objections are legally protected interests.”
The ruling has been met with backlash and criticism from those who promote pro-LGBT and anti-Christian views.
“Today, a radical, Republican-appointed federal judge ruled that employers can deny coverage for PrEP: a drug proven to save lives from HIV/AIDS and a key strategy for ending the epidemic,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi posted on Twitter. “This disturbing decision amounts to open homophobia: unleashing unthinkable suffering and death specifically among the LGBTQ community.”
The ACA has been challenged ever since its earliest days in effect. A year after the program was passed, 26 states joined together to fight the “unconstitutional” ruling.
Last week’s decision was another victory for Christian organizations fighting the LGBT agenda. The ACA has sparked many lawsuits for religious freedom over the years, including the long-awaited victory of Dr. James Dobson, who won a case to refuse the requirement to insure abortion-inducing contraceptives through his nonprofit.