WASHINGTON — Attorney generals for eighteen states have filed briefs with the United States Supreme Court to urge its nine justices to accept an appeal surrounding a Pennsylvania business that has been denied a reprieve from the abortion pill mandate in Obamacare.
As previously reported, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, which has 950 employees at its Arkansas, Maryland, Utah, North Carolina and Pennsylvania locations, filed suit last December 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.”
Its current health care plan specifically excludes “contraceptive prescription drugs” and “any drugs used to abort a pregnancy.”
In October 2012, the board of directors for Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, which is owned by Norman Hahn and run by his wife and five sons, composed “The Hahn Family Statement on the Sanctity of Human Life.”
“[H]uman life begins at conception (at the point where an egg and sperm unite), and that it is a sacred gift from God, and only God has the right to terminate human life,” the statement outlined.
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.
“It would be entirely inconsistent to allow the Hahns to enjoy the benefits of incorporation, while simultaneously piercing the corporate veil for the limited purpose of challenging these regulations,” Judge Mitchell Goldberg wrote.
The case was then appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, but in a 2 to 1 decision, Goldberg’s denial was upheld. Therefore, attorneys for Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation filed a petition with the nation’s highest court, asserting that the district court and appeals court are out of step with other circuits across the country.
“All Americans, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel David Cortman in a recent statement about the appeal. “The 18 states and other groups that filed briefs in support of this case all understand that a major aspect of freedom is at stake: if the government can force the Hahns to violate their faith just to engage in their livelihood, then the government can do the same or worse to others.”
“The question is whether the government can pick and choose what faith is, who the faithful are, and when and where they can exercise that faith,” added Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The cost of religious freedom for the Hahn family and many other job creators across the country who face this mandate is severe. The potential for massive fines and lawsuits would cripple their businesses and threaten jobs.”
Attorney generals that signed the supportive brief include Luther Strange of Alabama, Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, Greg Abbott of Texas, Jon Bruning of Nebraska, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, Marty Jackley of South Dakota and Samuel Olens of Georgia. Other supportive organizations signed a separate brief, including Prison Fellowship Ministries, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance and the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions.