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Hobby Lobby appeals morning-after pill decision

Associated Press Modified: November 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm •  Published: November 21, 2012

"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," the ruling said.

But the companies' appeal argues that members of the Green family run their businesses according to their religious faith, "and regularly engage in what can only be called exercises of religion."

Among other things, Hobby Lobby takes out hundreds of full-page ads every Christmas and Easter celebrating the religious nature of the holidays, closes on Sundays to give employees a day of rest and excludes contraceptive devices and drugs that its owners maintain can cause abortion from its employee prescription drug coverage plan, according to the appeal.

"They exercise their personal religious faith in many ways in which that company is run," Duncan said.

Heaton recognized that the Green family has sincere religious beliefs, but the judge ruled that complying with the new health care guidelines creates only an indirect burden on Hobby Lobby's owners and it is not personal to them, he said.

In medical terms, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the wall of the uterus. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the morning-after pill can reduce the chances of an egg implanting in a woman's womb by as much as 89 percent.

Critics of the contraception say it is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. The lawsuit also alleges that certain kinds of intrauterine devices can destroy an embryo by preventing it from implanting in a woman's uterus.

At a hearing earlier this month, a government lawyer said the drugs do not cause abortions and that the U.S. has a compelling interest in mandating insurance coverage for them.