Chicago, Ill., Jul 19, 2015 / 14:55 pm
A Bible publisher based in Illinois has won its lawsuit against the federal contraception mandate, with a final ruling delivered July 15 by a federal district court.
The ruling means that Tyndale House Publishers cannot be subject to the mandate, which was issued four years ago by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"In America, citizens have always had the freedom to believe, the freedom to express those beliefs, and the freedom to operate their businesses accordingly," said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which was representing Tyndale House in court.
"The Supreme Court upheld that principle in its Conestoga/Hobby Lobby decision last year, and the district court has rightly done the same," Bowman said.
Tyndale House is the world's largest privately-held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media. It gives more than 95 percent of its profits each year to religious non-profit causes across the globe.
The company is among several hundred plaintiffs that have filed lawsuits against the federal contraception mandate, a provision under the Affordable Care Act which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions. Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties.
Many of the lawsuits filed against the mandate are still working their way through the courts. The majority of plaintiffs have received a temporary injunction protecting them from the demands of the mandate while their case continues through the court system.
In the case of Tyndale House, however, the court has issued a final ruling, granting a permanent injunction that prevents the federal government from enforcing the mandate against the Bible publisher.
"Americans should be free to live and work according to their faith without fear of punishment by the government," said Bowman in a statement released after the ruling. "That includes Bible publishers, who should be free to do business according to the book that they publish."
Based in Carol Stream, Illinois, the Christian-owned publisher objects specifically to providing coverage for the drugs that can cause early abortions. In May 2013, the Obama administration withdrew its appeal of a preliminary injunction that had offered temporary protection to Tyndale House.
Other lawsuits against the contraception mandate remain in courts across the country.
In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in, striking down the mandate as it applied to arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby and other closely-held for-profit companies.
The federal government responded by issuing new rule saying that Hobby Lobby and similar companies would be subject to a modified version of the mandate which governs religious non-profit groups.
Many of these groups, however, say the modified rules still force them to violate their religious beliefs by signing an objection form that is then sent to the government, which then instructs their insurance companies to provide the objectionable coverage directly.
The government says that contraception coverage is cost-neutral to insurance companies because birth control reduces overall costs through fewer births and "tremendous health benefits" to women. However, some contest these claims, arguing that contraception will not be free to insurers, and the costs will ultimately be passed on to the employers who originally objected to them.
Among these objecting religious employers is the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of religious women that has spent 175 years caring for the elderly and dying.
On July 14, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Little Sisters, saying that they must follow the demands of the contraceptive mandate or else face fines of up to $2.5 million a year, or about 40 percent of the $6 million the Sisters beg for annually to run their ministry.