HASTINGS, Minn. — Attorneys with a nationally-recognized Christian legal group have filed a lawsuit on behalf of a car dealership in Minnesota that is seeking an exemption from what has become known as the abortion pill mandate in Obamacare.
The Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas filed the suit on Wednesday on behalf of Hastings Automotive, Inc. and Hastings Chrysler Center, along with their owner, Doug Erickson, who is a Christian. The organization notes that Erickson’s beliefs as a Christian prevent him from being involved in acts that destroy human life.
“Plaintiffs base their challenge on their sincerely held religious belief that life begins at conception and certain of the FDA-approved contraceptive methods, such as emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella, as well as certain intrauterine devices (‘IUDs’), can destroy a human embryo,” the federal complaint outlines. “Plaintiffs believe that it is immoral and sinful for them to provide a group health plan that includes coverage for such contraceptive methods.”
The lawsuit also outlines Erickson’s testimony as a businessman whose first commitment is to Jesus Christ.
“Erickson characterizes the work he does through the dealerships as ‘marketplace ministry,’ by which he seeks to serve Christ first and foremost and show the light of Christ to those with whom he comes in contact, such as customers and employees,” it explains. “Since Erickson dedicated the dealerships to Christ, Plaintiffs have seen a marked improvement in customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and business performance.”
Erickson’s dealership includes an on-site pastor and regular voluntary prayer meetings, and the business also financially supports Total Life Care Centers in Minnesota, which are multi-site pregnancy care centers that help abortion-minded women choose life.
Because Erickson is a devout Christian, he believes that he should not be forced to cover drugs that are considered abortifacients in violation of his faith. Liberty Counsel agrees.
“The government should not be able to coerce faith-based, for-profit businesses to violate their religious beliefs,” said Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys. “This mandate illegally and unconstitutionally forces our client to violate his sincerely held religious beliefs that form the very foundation for his work as a businessman.”
The organization is thus seeking both a preliminary and permanent injunction for Hastings Automotive, Inc. and Hastings Chrysler Center from the abortion pill mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
As previously reported, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear argument in March surrounding two similar challenges to the mandate, which could impact businesses nationwide: Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.
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 Obamacare. It asked the court to overturn a preliminary injunction that was granted to the company this past July.
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, the plaintiff in the second case that was accepted, 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. 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 3rd Circuit likewise rejected the injunction, which resulted in an appeal to the Supreme Court.