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Federal judge hears arguments in Hobby Lobby contraception case

Oklahoma City billionaire David Green, his family and his retail companies have asked the court to block a mandate that requires the company provide employees with certain contraception drugs and devices.
by Don Mecoy Published: November 2, 2012
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Bennett said the drugs and devices prevent a pregnancy from occurring, which does not constitute an abortion under federal law.

Duncan said the actions of the company and its executives are protected by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“Hobby Lobby is a wonderful company,” Duncan said. “It's a closely held family company run by the Green family. They simply wish to exercise their religion while operating a very successful business.”

Duncan said Hobby Lobby offers coverage for other forms of birth control, and will continue to do so.

“They provide wonderful benefits to their employees, including most contraceptives and preventive services for women,” he said. “All they're asking for is a narrow exemption from the health care law so they don't have to cover drugs that they believe cause abortions.”

Founded in an Oklahoma City garage in 1972, the Green family has grown Hobby Lobby from one retail space into more than 500 stores in 41 states that employ more than 22,000 people.

On Thursday, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak, a longtime opponent of the Affordable Care Act, pledged his support for Hobby Lobby and the Green family.

“My firm belief is that employers should not be required to provide coverage for items that they object to based on religious positions,” said Doak. “This is regardless of being a for-profit, secular corporation or being a privately-owned business or association.”

Separately, a federal judge in Michigan issued an injunction that halts enforcement of the health care mandate against Weingartz Supply Co. The firm excluded contraception coverage from its employee insurance because it conflicts with the Catholic owner's religious beliefs. The same judge declined to issue an injunction for a nonprofit Catholic organization because its decision to not provide contraception coverage is currently protected from enforcement by a safe harbor provision in the federal law.

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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All they're asking for is a narrow exemption from the health care law.”

Kyle Duncan

General counsel for the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty

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