A Catholic-owned organic food company being forced by the Obama administration to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs has lost a round in federal court and now will appeal to the US Supreme Court.
Organic company Eden Foods had argued that the administration’s so-called contraceptive mandate violated its constitutionally protected freedom of religion and speech and also violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The company, represented by the Thomas More Law Center, had asked the Sixth Circuit to issue an injunction halting the contraceptive/abortion mandate, but the justices in late October refused. The Obama administration had urged the Sixth Circuit to keep the mandate in place.
Eden Foods provides Blue Cross health insurance to its 128 employees. The change requiring contraceptive/abortion drug coverage was mandated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). All companies nationwide must comply. The Eden Foods lawsuit was previously reported by Off The Grid News.
“We’re on the path to Christian persecution in the United States,” said Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center. “The federal government through the HHS Mandate attempts to bully Christians into violating their God–given, constitutionally protected, right to freedom of religion and conscience.
“Let’s be clear about our case: it’s about conscience– not contraception, as the Obama administration would have you believe. It’s about the right of Christians to honor God. It’s about the religious freedom of Americans to practice their faith — free from government coercion. It’s about Americans fighting for their constitutional rights to religious liberty under the First Amendment.”
Businesses are defeating the Obamacare mandate
But despite the company’s loss at the Sixth Circuit, businesses nationwide are defeating the mandate in other circuit courts. Of the 39 for-profit lawsuits against the contraceptive/abortion mandate, 31 have resulted in businesses winning injunctive relief. Among the ones that have won: Christian-owned Hobby Lobby.
“Many customers of Eden Foods may feel the same way about a company marketing itself to a liberal clientele and then quietly harboring a right-wing, ideological agenda,” Carmon wrote. Carmon also compared Potter to Florida pastor Terry Jones who has burned Qurans.
In a statement on Eden Foods’ website, Potter noted that McDonald’s and 166 unions are exempt from the mandate. Small businesses and federal employees are also exempt, he said.
Potter particularly objected to the plans coverage of so-called lifestyle drugs. The lifestyle drugs include Viagra, birth control pills and some abortion-inducing drugs, often referred to as emergency contraception. The drugs can act after fertilization and even after implantation. Eden Foods’ previous insurance policy had allowed him to exclude those drugs, but not anymore.
“This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone’s access to healthcare or reproductive management,” Potter wrote. “This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience.”
It is discriminatory that not all employers (nationwide) have to comply with the HHS mandate. Millions of people and thousands of companies are exempt. The exemptions under the Act are illogical, inconsistent, and contributing factors to our lawsuit. For instance, McDonald’s Inc. and 166 unions are exempt. Small employers are exempt. Individuals who practice certain faiths are exempt, while individuals who practice other faiths are not. Federal employees are exempt, and this is hypocritical. There is no exemption for the religious freedoms of employers.
If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling, many companies and organizations would have to offer health insurance that covered abortion and contraception even if it violated their faith.
For-profit companies are obligated to provide insurance or seek an exemption through the Department of Health and Human Services. Nonprofit organizations will not be affected by the provision until January when other Obamacare mandates kick in.
1,231 Companies have been granted Obamacare waivers
The Department of Health and Human Services has granted one-year waivers that exempt 1,231 companies including McDonalds from certain aspects of Obamacare. Some of the waivers exempt companies from the employers mandate others from benefit caps and other restrictions in the law.
Some companies including McDonald’s also apparently received tailored exemptions that let them offer employees bare bones health insurance policies that don’t provide the amounts of coverage mandated by Obamacare, The Washington Post reported. Congress is also exempt from Obamacare because it already offers health insurance to its employees.
Obamacare is looking more and more like an effort to force liberal values on America rather than a health insurance plan. One has to wonder how many other entrepreneurs are going to be punished for trying to live by their faith while trying to do the right thing for their employees.