Loading
Contraception mandate kicks in for wave of employers
HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius listens as President Obama announces the contraceptive mandate at the White House, Jan. 12, 2012. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius listens as President Obama announces the contraceptive mandate at the White House, Jan. 12, 2012. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

.- The battle over religious freedom is intensifying as the controversial federal contraception mandate goes into effect for many for-profit employers at the start of the New Year.

“We shouldn’t have to give up our First Amendment rights to make a living,” said Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for The Catholic Association, which seeks to bring a faithful Catholic voice to the public square.

Ferguson told CNA on Jan. 3 that employers who did not win a court order blocking the mandate are now “placed in a horrible position, choosing between their livelihood and their faith.”

On Jan. 1, 2013, new employee health insurance plans began for many companies throughout the U.S., causing the new federal contraception mandate to go into effect for them. The controversial mandate requires coverage of contraception – including drugs that may cause early abortions – and sterilization.

While the mandate includes a narrow exemption for some religious employers and a one-year delay with the promise of a revision for others, for-profit companies have not been offered any accommodation for religious liberty. The government maintains that the right to religious freedom does not extend to owners of secular businesses.

The mandate has prompted dozens of lawsuits from both for-profit and non-profit organizations asking for temporary injunctions to block the enforcement of the mandate while they argue their cases in court.

On Dec. 30, U.S. District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff granted an injunction to Tom Monaghan, the founder and former owner of Domino's Pizza who now owns the property management company for a Michigan office park.

The judge acknowledged that the mandate would place a “substantial burden” on Monaghan’s ability to freely exercise his Catholic religion and could cause him to suffer “irreparable harm.”

“It is in the best interest of the public that Monaghan not be compelled to act in conflict with his religious beliefs,” the judge ruled in granting the injunction shortly before the end of the year.

Other employers scored last-minute victories as well, including a Mennonite-owned wood manufacturing company in Pennsylvania and a dairy farming corporation in Missouri.

So far, 10 for-profit employers have received injunctions from the mandate, while three have been denied them. Those employers that were not granted injunctions can still argue their cases in court, but they may be subject to fines for violating the mandate during this process.

Grote Industries, an Indiana-based vehicle lighting manufacturer, is one of the companies that was denied its request for an injunction. However, attorney Matt Bowman said that the legal team representing the company “has asked the judge to reconsider her recent decision.”

He explained to CNA that the appeals court in the judge’s circuit “granted an injunction to another business the day after she denied Grote Industries’ request.”

Hobby Lobby, the family-owned arts and crafts retailer, was also denied an injunction by both a district and appeals court. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor turned down the company’s emergency injunction appeal on Dec. 26, removing hope of immediate relief from the high court.

However, Kyle Duncan, an attorney representing Hobby Lobby in its case, said that the company plans to continue providing health insurance to its employees without paying for the drugs that it finds morally objectionable.

To continue following their Christian beliefs, the company’s owners now risk fines of $1.3 million per day.

Ferguson said that the commitment shown by Hobby Lobby and its owners is “incredibly admirable.”

The company is “a true American success story,” started in a garage in Oklahoma, she explained, and Congress “ought to be paying attention” when a government regulation threatens the existence of such a business.

Still, Ferguson remains “cautiously optimistic” as the lawsuits continue to move forward, observing that it is “encouraging that we’re winning in most of the court cases.”

Prayer and efforts to educate others about the mandate are critical, she emphasized, urging the faithful to be active in their parishes, contact their congressional representatives and write letters to the editor to raise awareness and support for religious freedom.

The unprecedented encroachment posed the mandate could lead to a further erosion of fundamental freedoms unless people are willing to stand up now, Ferguson explained.

“Catholics should be gravely concerned about this,” she said.

Tags: Contraception mandate

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Sep
2

Liturgical Calendar

September 2, 2014

Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 4:31-37

Gospel
Date
09/02/14
09/01/14
08/31/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 1 Cor 2:10B-16
Gospel:: Lk 4:31-37

Saint of the Day

Martyrs of September »

Saint
Date
08/31/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 4:31-37

Homily
Date
09/02/14
09/01/14
08/31/14
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: