JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – State Sen. Paul Wieland (R-Hillsboro) won his appeal in his suit aimed at the Affordable Care Act from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Wieland v. Sebelius Monday.
Wieland has already spent nearly two years fighting against a clause in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare, that requires insurance plans to provide contraceptive and abortive medicines.
As an employee of the state, Wieland receives health insurance from the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan, one which must follow federal statutes, including the ACA’s contraception mandate. Wieland, a devout Catholic, considers it an affront to his sincerely held religious belief, and as parents to three daughters, he and his wife consider it an “offensive” rule. Wieland sued, saying he shouldn’t be required by the government to provide contraceptive medicine to his daughters.
“I have to participate in a plan that provides abortion drugs; that is against my religious conscience,” Wieland said. “Even if I didn’t have daughters, it would be offensive against my religion. Everything that I’ve taught you about our faith should be ignored because the government knows better than your dad.”
The state senator from Jefferson County also noted that this was not a case of him being a “stone age” patriarch.
“My wife is probably more livid than I am as far as the government trying to tell us how to raise our children,” he said.
After the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that for-profit corporations were exempt from laws that their owners objected to based on religious grounds in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a case that also revolved around contraception medication, Wieland believes that courts now have precedent for individuals to also have the freedom to opt out of that kind of coverage.
Wieland first started his case in August 2013, before he was even elected to the senate, but in October of that year, Judge Jean C. Hamilton granted a motion by the defendant for a lack of standing. The team for Kathleen Sebelius, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services, argued the ACA contraceptive mandate only applied to employers, not individuals.
The win for Wieland yesterday in the Court of Appeals found he did in fact have standing. Now, the case will go back to district court to be decided on merit.
Wieland says the case could remain ongoing for years but that both sides will likely attempt to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.