William & Mary Business Law Review


The most contentious matter in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not one of health care, but rather one of the law of business organizations. Numerous for-profit business organizations have challenged the portion of the PPACA and its related regulations requiring that group health insurance plans provide, on a no-cost sharing basis, coverage for a variety of procedures and prescription medicines involving contraception and what some describe as “abortificants.” In these suits, the various business ventures and their owners assert that they should be exempt from the requirement of the mandate on the basis that, inter alia, compliance therewith would violate the religious beliefs of the organizations’ ownership and management. The problem with this position is that it treats the business entity as the nominee of either its ownership or management, asserting that what is done by the organization is in effect done on their behalf. This paradigm is not, however, consistent with the law of business organizations where the business entity is a legal person distinct from its shareholders or investors. Alternatively, it is claimed that the religious beliefs of the organization itself are violated by the mandate. Again, this argument fails on the basis that a business organization does not have religious beliefs. Rather, as has been famously put, “a corporation has no soul.”

Ultimately, these lawsuits fail as a matter of standing; the owners are not subject to the mandate, and the corporation or other business entity has no religious views violated thereby.