Christian bookstore seeks exemption to contraceptive stipulation in health care law
Chain of bookstores request exemption on the basis of moral, religious beliefs
Hobby Lobby, a Christian book and arts supply store, along with sister company Mardel, is fighting for religious freedom. Under Obamacare employers required to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients for their employees regardless of any moral considerations. An appeals court had now ruled this is especially onerous, saying companies shouldn't have to pay millions of dollars in fines while their claims are considered.
Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., Mardel Inc. along with their owners the Green family, argue for-profit businesses, and not just religious groups should be allowed to seek an exception if the law violates their religious beliefs.
The judges unanimously sent the case back to a lower court in Oklahoma, which had rejected the companies' request for an injunction to prevent full enforcement of the new law.
"Hobby Lobby and Mardel have drawn a line at providing coverage for drugs or devices they consider to induce abortions, and it is not for us to question whether the line is reasonable," the judges wrote. "The question here is not whether the reasonable observer would consider the plaintiffs complicit in an immoral act, but rather how the plaintiffs themselves measure their degree of complicity."
Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., Mardel Inc. along with their owners the Green family, argue for-profit businesses, and not just religious groups should be allowed to seek an exception if the law violates their religious beliefs. While the Green Family approves most forms of artificial birth control, they do not approve of devices that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, such as an IUD or the morning-after pill.
The largest and best-known of more than 30 businesses in several states, Hobby Lobby is among the most high profile business to have challenged the contraception mandate. A number of Catholic-affiliated institutions have filed separate lawsuits, and the court suggested faith-based organizations can follow for-profit objectives in the secular world.
"A religious individual may enter the for-profit realm intending to demonstrate to the marketplace that a corporation can succeed financially while adhering to religious values. As a court, we do not see how we can distinguish this form of evangelism from any other," they wrote.
In a ruling that covered more than 160 pages, the judges noted Hobby Lobby faced a difficult choice; violate its religious beliefs and pay $475 million in fines for failing to comply with the law, which includes a $100 fine per day for each of its 13,000 workers, or pay $26 million to the government if it dropped its health care plan altogether.
Hobby Lobby and Mardel won expedited federal review because the stores would have faced fines starting next week for not covering the required forms of contraception. The 10th Circuit judges said the Oklahoma court was wrong to not grant the companies an injunction in the face of serious financial penalties.
Hobby Lobby and other companies challenging the contraception mandate say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion, which it scientifically is, because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman's womb.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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