Court rejects Hobby Lobby's challenge to contraceptive mandate

OKLAHOMA CITY Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:09pm EST

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OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday denied a legal challenge to President Barack Obama's signature health reforms, ruling that the owners of a $3 billion arts and crafts chain must provide emergency contraceptives in their group health care plan.

The owners of Hobby Lobby asked to be exempted from providing the "morning after" and "week after" pills on religious grounds, arguing this would violate their Christian belief that abortion is wrong.

Judge Joe Heaton of the U.S. District for the Western District of Oklahoma denied the request for a preliminary injunction.

Heaton ruled that while individual members of the family that owns and operates Hobby Lobby have religious rights, the companies the family owns are secular, for-profit enterprises that do not possess the same rights.

Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., which assisted Hobby Lobby in the legal challenge, said Monday's ruling will be appealed.

Hobby Lobby, the largest non-Catholic U.S. company to go to court over the issue of contraceptives in the Affordable Care Act, is owned by the Green family of Oklahoma City. Patriarch David Green is ranked 79th on Forbes Magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans with a net worth of $4.5 billion.

The family operate 514 Hobby Lobby stores in 41 states and employ 13,240 people. It funds a variety of Christian charities, closes its stores on Sundays and plays inspirational Christian music in its stores.

The Green family also sought contraceptive health insurance exemption for Mardel, their family-owned bookstore and educational supply company that has 35 stores in seven states with 372 employees.

The Oklahoma City-based companies already had been unwittingly providing the emergency contraceptives until they realized they were do so during the debate over provisions of what conservatives have dubbed "Obamacare," according to court testimony. They discontinued that coverage only recently, testimony showed.

The Food and Drug Administration lists the "morning after" and "week after" pills as emergency contraceptives. But abortion opponents like the Green family consider them abortion-inducing drugs because they are often taken after conception.

Hobby Lobby faces a January 1 deadline to comply with the mandate to provide all FDA-approved contraceptives. Failure to do so would entail a penalty of up to $1.3 million per day.

There are more than 40 other lawsuits challenging the health care mandate that requires that all group health plans provide emergency contraceptives, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

(Reporting by Steve Olafson; Editing by Nick Carey and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (23)
unreason wrote:
“But abortion opponents like the Green family consider them abortion-inducing drugs because they are often taken after conception.”
I don’t even know what to call that

There is evidence that ella is embryotoxic but norgestrel is not. Taking either after conception (whether fertilization or implantation) is not recommended because they are guaranteed ineffective (in the case of norgestrel) or much less likely to be effective at that point. The sooner after intercourse, the more likely to be effective.

Nov 19, 2012 11:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
wfm12 wrote:
Freedom of Religion…is becoming merely a phrase in this country. At least, as it is being applied to Judeo Christian beliefs and practices. How very sad that a family owned business cannot choose to live within their “Constitutional rights”. Why not allow the freedoms of the market place to deal with those who would act inappropriately in their eyes. If the masses appreciate Hobby Lobby’s stance, they may support the business. If they do not, they can choose not to buy from them. This government is out of control with its “top down” “authoritarian” “dictatorial” approach to governing. What you can eat, what you can say, who you can hire, what insurance product you wish to offer, etc..etc..etc…. The slippery slope’s become a leftist power slide!

Nov 20, 2012 1:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
fromthecenter wrote:
So sex isnt a hobby?

Nov 20, 2012 1:36am EST  --  Report as abuse
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