Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby to defy federal law requiring contraception coverage for employees, attorney says

The Oklahoma City-based retailer must provide insurance coverage for morning-after pills and week-after pills beginning Jan. 1 or face potential fines of up to $1.3 million per day.
BY DON MECOY dmecoy@opubco.com Modified: December 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm •  Published: December 27, 2012
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Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby will defy a federal law that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for types of contraception that the firm's owners consider to be “abortion-causing drugs and devices,” an attorney for the company said Thursday.

With Wednesday's rejection of an emergency stay of that federal health care law by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Hobby Lobby and sister company Mardel could be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day beginning Tuesday.

“They're not going to comply with the mandate,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel of The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing the company. “They're not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.”

As for the potential fines, Duncan said, “We're just going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel, filed a lawsuit in September challenging part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. They said a provision dealing with insurance coverage for certain types of contraception — the morning-after pill, the week-after pill and some intrauterine devices — went against the family's beliefs. The Greens believe those types of contraception could cause abortions.

Religious beliefs

David Green, Hobby Lobby founder and CEO, hinted that the company wouldn't comply with the law.

“Our family is now being forced to choose 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 in September. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.”

Hobby Lobby and Mardel operate more than 500 stores and employ more than 13,000 people.

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