Provisions of President Barack Obama's landmark Affordable Care Act legislation threatened religious freedom. However, a new ruling has rolled back one more piece of the sweeping legislation.
A federal judge in Texas struck down an Obamacare rule mandating insurance companies and employers pay for preexposure prophylaxis, otherwise known as PrEP, meant to prevent HIV infection, the Daily Wire reported. The provision was a threat to the First Amendment freedoms of companies and individuals who opposed paying for the therapeutic on religious grounds.
"Braidwood has shown that the PrEP mandate substantially burdens its religious exercise," Judge Reed O'Connor wrote in his opinion Wednesday. "The burden thus shifts to Defendants to show that the PrEP mandate furthers a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. Defendants have not carried that burden."
O'Connor was referring to Braidwood Management Inc. et al. v. Becerra, which involved two businesses and six individuals arguing that the mandate violated the U.S. Constitution and Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That legislation restricts the government from imposing rules that burden individuals' rights to practice their religion.
In this case, the plaintiffs contended that the drug encouraged same-sex relations that are against their beliefs. The drug was recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2019 to prevent HIV infection in high-risk individuals.
That cohort includes men who have sex with other men as well as heterosexuals at high risk. However, the drug is also used sometimes as postexposure prophylaxis in cases of sexual assault.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegs efficacy is about 74% for exposure due to drug injection and 99% for sexually transmitted HIV. Still, the disease is often acquired through activities that are against the beliefs of many Christians, making the prevention measure a tacit endorsement.
Obamacare was a debacle that no politician or court could manage to get rid of. However, the parts of the legislation that threaten religious freedom have been successfully challenged -- at least for now.