Federal Judge: Hobby Lobby Must Offer Morning-After Pill
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge Monday rejected Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.’s request to block part of the federal health care overhaul that requires the arts and craft supply company to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after and week-after birth control pills.
In a 28-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton denied a request by Hobby Lobby to prevent the government from enforcing portions of the health care law mandating insurance coverage for contraceptives the company’s Christian owners consider objectionable.
The Oklahoma City-based company and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government in September, claiming the mandate violates the owners’ religious beliefs. The owners contend the morning-after and week-after birth control pills are tantamount to abortion because they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s womb. They also object to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices.
At a hearing earlier this month, a government lawyer said the drugs do not cause abortions and that the U.S. has a compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage for them.
In his ruling denying Hobby Lobby’s request for an injunction, Heaton said that while churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth-control provisions, “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.”
“Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion,” the ruling said.
Heaton wrote that “the court is not unsympathetic” to the problems cited by Hobby Lobby and their owners, the Green family. He said the health care law’s expansion of employer obligations “results in concerns and issues not previously confronted by companies or their owners.”
“The question of whether the Greens can establish a free exercise constitutional violation by reason of restrictions or requirements imposed on general business corporations they own or control involves largely uncharted waters,” Heaton wrote.
Hobby Lobby’s attorney said the companies’ owners will appeal.
“Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said in a statement.
The morning-after pill works by preventing ovulation or fertilization. In medical terms, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it can reduce a woman’s chances of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent.
Critics of contraception say it is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. The lawsuit also alleges that certain kinds of intrauterine devices can destroy an embryo by preventing it from implanting in a woman’s uterus.
Hobby Lobby is the largest business to file a lawsuit against the mandate.
Hobby Lobby calls itself a “biblically founded business” and is closed on Sundays. Founded in 1972, the company now operates more than 500 stores in 41 states and employs more than 13,000 full-time employees who are eligible for health insurance coverage. The company, which is self-insured, has said it will face a daily $1.3 million fine beginning Jan. 1 if it ignores the law.
“It is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” said David Green, founder and CEO. “Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”
The Green family has said it has no moral objection to the use of other contraceptives and will continue covering them for its employees.
- Shock Video Surfaces: Meat Cleaver-Wielding Man Shouts ‘You People Will Never Be Safe!’ Moments After Gruesome London Attack 488 Comments
- Why Were DHS Agents Seemingly Monitoring Multiple Tea Party IRS Protests Across the Country on Tuesday? 474 Comments
- Confusion Erupts in IRS Hearing After Lois Lerner Tries to Plead the 5th — Watch It All Unfold 465 Comments
- The Tense Exchange Between Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Former IRS Head You’ve Been Waiting for…and It Doesn’t Disappoint 370 Comments
- CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Has Awkward Moment With Okla. Tornado Survivor After Asking If She ‘Thanked the Lord’ 330 Comments
- ‘We…Aren’t Going to Take S**t From Homophobes’: Mysterious Pro-Firearm Ads Use Gays, Seemingly Topless Lesbians to Rail Against Gun Control 105 Comments
- Pope Francis’ Sermon Sparks Debate: ‘Even the Atheists’ Have Been Redeemed ‘With the Blood of Christ’ 210 Comments
- Beck Issues Challenge to People of Faith in Wake of Okla. Tornado: ‘What Have You Done?’ Read More
- ‘Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad!: Michelle Malkin Rips Progressives, Clashes With Lib Radio Host Over Islamic Terrorism and the London Machete Attack 105 Comments
- Ariz. Lawmaker Surprises Colleagues, Comes Out as an Atheist While Delivering Daily Prayer 108 Comments
- Trey Gowdy at It Again — This Time with a Jack Bauer Reference! Read More
- Emails Released: Congress Was Asking for Updates on IG’s IRS Audit Before 2012 Election Read More
- Weekly Unemployment Benefits Tumble Read More
- Why Is This German Company Recruiting Tech Staff With Autism? Read More
- House Votes to Speed up Keystone Pipeline: Here’s Everyone Who Voted for and Against It Read More
- The Incredible Role Facebook Played in the Aftermath of Devastating Okla. Tornado Read More
- Tech Company Demonstrates Remote Disabling of a ‘Smart Gun’ 120 Comments
- Meet the Blind Man Nicknamed ‘Midnight Gunslinger’ Who Has 80% Shot Accuracy Read More
- How a $4.5 Million Network of 181 Sirens Helped Save Lives in Oklahoma Twister Read More
- See the Record-Setting Python a Man Caught With His Bare Hands (and Guess How Much It Weighed) Read More
- Video: Introducing ‘ConservoTax,’ the first tax software made for Republicans
- Watch the other hand: Immigration reform advances under cover of scandals
- Bill O’Reilly counts calories, orders salad at fried-food restaurant
- ‘Middle class champion’ Elizabeth Warren joins Senate Millionaires Club
- Matt Drudge calls MSNBC host ‘squirrely’…
- Muslim hardliners ID London terror suspect
- Cannes crime: 2nd jewel theft during film festival
- James, Bryant voted to All-NBA first team
- Coded goal: RG3 still aiming for Redskins' opener
- Tea party storm largely inside IRS _ so far
- Israel says Iran unaffected by world pressure
- House backs variable rate student loans
- Obama condemns 'appalling attack' on UK soldier