U.S. Supreme Court Hears Hobby Lobby’s Challenge to Obamacare Abortion Pill Mandate

Supreme_Court WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument on Tuesday surrounding Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the Obamacare abortion pill mandate, as well as a challenge from Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, a Mennonite-owned kitchen cabinet company.

As previously reported, the Obama administration had filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in September in an effort to force the popular craft chain Hobby Lobby to comply with the abortion pill mandate in the Affordable Care Act. It asked the court to overturn a preliminary injunction that was granted to the company this past July.

Hobby Lobby offers birth control coverage to its employees but refuses to provide coverage for the morning-after and week-after pill, which it believes are abortifacients.

Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, the plaintiff in the second case before the court, filed suit in December 2012 against the mandate, stating that it has never provided insurance coverage for medications that induce abortions, and doesn’t plan on doing so. It explained that terminating a life after conception violates its sincerely-held Mennonite beliefs, stating that it “is an intrinsic evil and a sin against God.”

However, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush rejected the corporation’s request for an injunction, stating that for-profit businesses that are secular in nature cannot be considered religious entities, and are thus not entitled to an exemption. The Third Circuit likewise rejected the injunction.

On Tuesday, the nine justices of the Supreme Court were divided over whether for-profit businesses should be granted exemptions for religious purposes. According to reports, the female justices were more skeptical of allowing the exemption, while the male justices seemed to lean more in favor of accommodating the religious beliefs of corporations.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked Hobby Lobby attorney Paul Clement if companies should be allowed to refuse to cover other procedures, such as blood transfusions and vaccines, for religious reasons. She posited that a “slippery slope” could result from allowing an exemption to the contraceptive mandate.

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“One religious group could opt out of this and another religious group could opt out of that, and everything would be piecemeal and nothing would be uniform,” Sotomayor stated.

Justice Elena Kagan agreed, asserting that companies could consequently challenge other federal laws, such as the minimum wage requirement and child labor laws, based on religious claims. She contended that Hobby Lobby didn’t have to provide the coverage, but could rather opt to pay the fine, which she claimed was less than the cost of insuring each employee.

But Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that the government should pay for birth control methods that are considered to be abortifacients if the business owner has objections to covering the cost.

“You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls? Not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. That’s not terribly expensive stuff, is it?” Scalia asked.

When US. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli disagreed, other justices seemed to suggest support for the idea.

“I thought it was the government’s position that providing coverage for the full range of contraceptives and other devices and drugs that are covered here is actually financially neutral for an insurance company, that that reduces other costs that they would incur,” said Justice Samuel Alito.

The justices also grilled Verrilli on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and what rights should be granted to corporations to freely exercise their religion.

“What about the implications of saying that no for-profit corporation can raise any sort of free exercise claim at all and nobody associated with the for-profit corporation can raise any sort of free exercise claim at all?” Justice Alito asked.

“[W]hat you’re saying to them is if they choose to work under the corporate form, which is viewed universally, you have to give up on that form the Freedom of Exercise Clause that you’d otherwise have,” Justice Anthony Kennedy added.

A ruling is expected in June, and could have significant impact on the rights of religious-owned businesses to practice their faith in the workplace.


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  • Caroline Larsen

    Companies can not force employees to abide by its own beliefs, especially when the company is not registered as a faith-based/religious or charitable nonprofit organization.

    To employ only those whose beliefs are in agreement with the company’s beliefs would be to place a test of religion for employment, which violates the Constitution. To deny an employee contraceptives or pills for the after-math based on company beliefs imposes the company’s beliefs upon the employee, denying the employee the right to act according to their conscience.

    I vote that the mandate should stand. It is not the company executives who would seek pro-abortives, thereby they can live with themselves… but is the election of the employee, the employee’s right to decide their own health care choices.

  • Jay

    As concerning the following erased post, would someone clarify the qualifying criteria here? It seems like the more thorough and concisely that the scriptures are considered, the faster the post disappears!?

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It does not surprise me that Hobby Lobby’s extra stringent and dubious ethical stance as to abortions being part of medical coverage is contradicted by their stance as to whether or not to “MAKE MONEY” off the same companies that they cause to have less business if they get their way as to employees health coverage. It doesn’t surprise me because the Bible contradicts their Biblical stand as to abortions as badly as their own stand ignores the investment issue.
    For whatever it’s worth to you Numbers 5: 11-31 is a record where it is recorded that God will give a miscarriage to a woman that has been unfaithful. Some say that the record doesn’t “SAY” that the woman might be pregnant so the words that the NIV translated as “miscarry” does not apply. I answer to them that the record makes it clear that in this situation she might have been having sex, so what color is the sky in your world when you say that she can not be pregnant. I stubbed my toe this morning, but don’t be fooled, I’m not actually “saying” that it was painful.
    I think that many people sincerely believe that abortion is murder, but they mistakenly seek to take the same option away from women or couples that may find themselves in a similar situation. Their version of purity and ethical integrity does not fit well with many people or their unique situations, but I do not deny them the freedom to not choose abortion either.
    In numbers God Himself aborts fetuses in certain situations, but these do-gooders think that they know it all. Abortion is not murder….unless you think that God is morally inferior to you as well based on Numbers 5 the issue as I see it is that God gave all care and responsibility for a fetus to the mom first and foremost, and of course by association to anyone involved in her life. Care for pregnant women will of course reflect on us as a culture in God’s eyes I believe. But the choice is hers.
    There ARE NO GODLY STATUTES banning abortion, and even in this case an abortion (pretty much) is granted by God. The best that I’ve seen in anti-abortion circles is reliance on the commandment, “Thou shall not murder. But from what I have seen in the scriptures…..ABORTION IS NOT MURDER. And we don’t stone and vilify women publicly for adultery anymore since Jesus told the one woman that he did not condemn her either.
    So biblicaly speaking the urge to ban abortions may be ethically and spiritually refuted by any number of answers from “none of your dang business” TO “not only is your law stupid, but it has no resemblance whatsoever to anything God has said….EVER.”
    So biblicaly speaking the urge to ban abortions may be ethically and spiritually refuted by any number of answers from “none of your dang business” TO “not only is your law stupid, but it has no resemblance whatsoever to anything God has said….EVER.”
    And as to you people that condemn women with your rude supposedly Christian condemnation, you suck even worse than the accusers that wanted to stone the adulteress because you don’t even have one biblical criminal statute to back you up. Abortion is not murder, and your rudeness is vile and offensive to me.
    (Sarcasm alert) As to you Christians that believe in forcing everybody to adhere to Old Testament standards…. what you need to do if you wish to remain consistent is try to FORCE unfaithful wives with jealous husbands to have abortions…..
    I jus’ love timely and relevant applications of scripture. But for those of you who do not….no problem because when it comes to issues one can not get enough of straight “ethical” discussions. When peoples’ scriptural applications contradict obvious issues of ethics and simple human decency it is a major red flag for me. More than on civilization has been misled with the “scritpures” supposedly backing them up throughout history yanno.
    Romans 2 (1599 Geneva Bible)
    19 And persuadest thyself that thou art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
    20 An instructor of them which lack discretion, a teacher of the unlearned, which hast the [w]form of knowledge, and of the truth in the [x]law.
    21 Thou therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest, A man should not steal, dost thou steal?
    22 Thou that sayest, A man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, committest thou sacrilege?
    23 Thou that gloriest in the Law, through breaking the Law, dishonorest thou God?
    24 For the Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    For the record, I do not recommend ignoring Numbers 5 while trying to ban abortions. It contradicts God’s Word (You know, the part that actually applies to abortions) and the unbelievers are justified in seeing hypocrisy.