Appeals Court Rules Against Catholic Business Owners in Favor of HHS Birth-Control Mandate
An appeals court has ruled that a family owned business in Michigan must comply with Obamacare and pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs despite the fact that to do so violates their religious beliefs. “These ‘HHS mandate cases’ thus have staggering implications for believers because the mandate could potentially force Christian-owned companies (and even some ministries) to shut down altogether in order to remain faithful to God and His Word.
By Melissa Barnhart
9/19/2013 United States (CP)- The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a Michigan-based family owned business must comply with an Obamacare mandate that requires companies to pay directly for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
In the case, Autocam Corporation v. Kathleen Sebelius, John Kennedy, the CEO of Autocam and Autocam Medical in Grand Rapids, Mich., whose family owns the two businesses that employ 661 people in the U.S., claims the mandate forces them to violate their pro-life Catholic beliefs.
Judge Julia Smith Gibbons, who wrote the opinion of the court, argued that the Obamacare contraception mandate does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Kennedy family’s religious convictions.
“We dismiss the claims of the individual plaintiffs on standing grounds,” wrote Gibbons, adding that the decision to comply with the mandate will be up to Autocam, and not the Kennedys, who own the business.
According to the Kennedys, forcing their business to comply with the mandate would require them to do one of three things: violate their convictions and comply with the mandate; drop health care coverage for their employees; or continue providing health care under their current plan and incur fines of up-to $19 million a year, because they don’t directly pay for birth control, sterilization or abortion-inducing drugs, which would put Autocam out of business, and force them to layoff their employees.
The Pennsylvania corporation claimed that the Obamacare contraception mandate violated the employer’s right to free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. However, the Third Circuit ruled that a private employer cannot challenge the mandate, even if they believe it violates their religious conscience.
Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Autocam Corporation v. Kathleen Sebelius case, stated that “companies cannot break the law by withholding coverage for health services just because they have a religious objection. … This law ensures that employers do not discriminate against their workers by making it difficult for them to obtain the care they need.”
In his interview with the National Review, Kennedy stated that Autocam employees can purchase “anything that the IRS defines as a ‘medical expense’ – including a surgical abortion – with pre-tax dollars through their HSAs (health savings accounts). I’m simply trying to ensure that my family does not spend our money in a way that directly supports conduct that violates our deeply held beliefs.”
“Believers are called to honor God at all times – not just in the pew on Sunday – but the Obamacare contraception mandate compels Christians to choose between faithfulness to God (sanctity of life) and compliance with the civil law,” she asserted. “These ‘HHS mandate cases’ thus have staggering implications for believers because the mandate could potentially force Christian-owned companies (and even some ministries) to shut down altogether in order to remain faithful to God and His Word. The financial penalties would be devastating even to the most profitable, well-established business.”