Hobby Lobby sued the federal government because the company’s owners object to four specific contraceptives mandated for insurance coverage, not because they oppose all 18 of the required contraceptives for women.
The four include two “emergency contraceptives” — Plan B and ella — and two intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Members of the Green family who own Hobby Lobby say those contraceptives are abortifacients — that they induce abortion.
The point has led to some disputes in legal filings with the U.S. Supreme Court about the definitions of abortion and pregnancy.
A group of obstetricians, gynecologists and other physicians told the justices that abortion is the termination of a pregnancy and the contraceptives at issue can’t induce abortion because they only work before pregnancy.
The Greens counter that the contraceptives can prevent the implantation in the uterus of a fertilized egg. They say that is the destruction of life and that forcing them to offer those contraceptives makes them complicit in abortion.
If the U.S. Supreme Court rules for Hobby Lobby, the argument over specific kinds of contraceptives may be irrelevant.
Among the dozens of cases challenging the contraception mandate is at least one brought by a for-profit company run by Catholics who oppose all forms of contraception.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled for Hobby Lobby last year, also upheld a Colorado judge’s ruling that the Catholic-owned company would likely win its lawsuit against the federal government.
Mark Rienzi, an attorney for the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which has represented Hobby Lobby since the case began in Oklahoma City, said in an interview that if Hobby prevails in the case, the government won’t be able to force closely held for-profit companies to comply with the contraception mandate. However, he said there would likely be relatively few such companies that would not offer the coverage for religious reasons.
Chris Casteel, Washington Bureau