|Judge: Hobby Lobby, Mardel must provide abortion pill coverage|
|Written by Christine D. Johnson|
|Tuesday, 20 November 2012 11:14 AM America/New_York|
Christian-owned-and-operated Hobby Lobby Stores and sister company, Mardel Christian & Education, didn't receive the outcome founder and CEO David Green wanted in yesterday's federal court case.
U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled Nov. 19 that the Oklahoma City-based companies must provide the "morning after" and "week after" pills under new federal healthcare rules that begin Jan. 1. If they don't, the companies will face fines of up to $1.3 million per day.
"We disagree with this decision and we will immediately appeal it," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs. The Green family needs relief now, and we will seek it immediately from the federal appeals court in Denver."
The court did not question the fact that the family's beliefs forbid them from participating in abortion, but ruled that those beliefs were only "indirectly" burdened by the mandate's requirement that they provide free coverage for specific, abortion-inducing drugs in Hobby Lobby's self-funded insurance plan.
In a related health care case, Tyndale House Publishers received a favorable ruling last Friday, Nov. 16, which stopped enforcement of the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate for the Christian publisher.
Hobby Lobby was founded in 1972 and has grown from one 300-square-foot retail space into more than 500 stores in 41 states. The chain employs more than 22,500 people.
"It is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured," Green said. "Therefore we seek to honor God by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles."
Mardel was opened by David Green's son, CEO Mart Green, in 1981 and now has 35 stores with 800 employees.
Hobby Lobby is the largest and first non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. The Green family will continue covering preventive contraceptives for its employees, but their convictions prohibit them from providing or paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, which would violate their belief that life begins at conception. The lawsuit acts to preserve the companies' right to carry out its mission free from government coercion.
There are 40 separate lawsuits now challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"). The Becket Fund also represents other Christian organizations in their fight against the mandate, including Wheaton College, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network and Ave Maria University.