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Hobby Lobby challenges federal mandate to provide 'morning-after' pills to employees

The owners of Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday claiming that the Health and Human Services “preventive services” mandate violates their rights of religious freedom and free speech.
by Don Mecoy Modified: September 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm •  Published: September 12, 2012

The evangelical Christians who own Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging the federal mandate that they provide their employees no-cost access to contraception that conflicts with their religious beliefs.

The lawsuit claims the federal Health and Human Services mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act adopted in 2010, violates the business owners' freedoms of religion and speech. Hobby Lobby founder and CEO David Green said the law places his family and company in an untenable position.

“Our family is now being forced to choose to between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families,” Green said Wednesday during a conference call. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby and Mardel retail stores, have long been public about their religious beliefs, reflected in the Sunday closings of their stores, the purchase of full-page Christian-themed newspaper ads on Easter and Christmas, the use of full-time chaplains to minister to employees and using profits to fund ministries and missions around the world.

The Affordable Care Act, labeled Obamacare by opponents, requires insurance companies to offer several preventive care services, including contraception, to women at no cost. The rule took effect Aug. 1, and the requirement would kick in with Hobby Lobby, which is self-insured, on Jan. 1.

The lawsuit is seeking an injunction to allow the company to avoid potential penalties of more than $1 million a day, said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed the action on the company's behalf.

The lawsuit also seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the mandate's enforcement against the Green family and its businesses, “and other individuals and organizations that object on religious grounds to providing insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs and devices, and related education and counseling.”

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by Don Mecoy
Business Editor
Business Editor Don Mecoy has covered business news for more than a decade after earlier working on The Oklahoman's city, state and metro news desks, including a stint as city editor. He has won state and regional journalism awards for business,...
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