When Paul and Teresa Wieland, Catholic parents of three daughters, filed suit against the Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate, MSNBC ridiculed their legal challenge.Share
“One Missouri lawmaker has taken the fight against birth-control coverage to a new and very personal place: his own daughters, two of whom are adults,” reported MSNBC, in a September 2014 story that referenced then-Missouri state Rep. Paul Wieland.
Wieland, of Imperial, has since won a seat in the Missouri state senate, where other pro-life lawmakers have also been forced onto a health plan that provides cost-free contraception, surgical sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, as required under the HHS mandate.
But while the cable network framed the lawsuit as an attempt by the Wielands to ask “the federal government to enforce their parental guidelines on their daughters,” Wieland offered a different take.
“My daughters are free to make any choice they want, but my wife and I should not be required to enroll in a plan that includes these drugs,” he told the Register.
Now, more than a year after the Wielands filed their initial lawsuit in November 2013, their attorney will get a chance to test that argument in court.
The Wielands’ legal challenge stalled after a lower court ruled that the couple did not have standing to challenge the mandate. But on July 20, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the couple did have “standing to sue.”
Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, which represents the Wielands, celebrated the unanimous decision as a key milestone in the ongoing legal battle to broaden the mandate’s narrow religious exemption.
After Hobby Lobby, a closely held company run by a Christian family, won its lawsuit against the mandate at the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2014, said Brejcha, it was past time for individual believers to step up and defend their right to opt out of health plans that violated their sincerely held beliefs.
The issue of standing did not arise when Hobby Lobby filed its lawsuit, because the plaintiff was an employer challenging a federal law that required business owners to provide the new coverage authorized under the Affordable Care Act. But the Wielands are not employers, so their standing posed a challenge to their lawyer. (Read more.)