A federal court has ruled that Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby and sister company Mardel must cover the morning-after pill and week-after pill as part of employee health insurance plans. Coverage of the abortion pill is mandated by Obamacare.
The Green family that owns Hobby Lobby will be socked with a $1.3 million daily fine beginning January 1 if they refuse to provide the coverage. The store has 13,000 full-time employees at 500 stores in 41 states and provides its own health insurance.
The Christian family-owned and biblically founded arts and crafts company asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block enforcement of the law. The company believes the “use of the morning-after and week-after birth control pills are tantamount to abortion because they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s womb,” according to CBS News.
Government lawyers argued earlier this month that the drugs do not induce abortions and that the feds have a compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage. The drugs are considered emergency postcoital contraception and are intended to disrupt ovulation or fertilization.
U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton ruled that although religious organizations and corporations have been granted constitutional protection from provisions of Obamacare regarding birth-control measures, the government does not consider Hobby Lobby a religious organization.
According to the government, the plaintiffs “have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”
“Every American, including family business owners like the Greens, should be free to live and do business according to their religious beliefs,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in a statement. The organization is representing Hobby Lobby in court.