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A Missouri-based plumbing products company has joined dozens of other groups filing suit against the federal government over the controversial birth control mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
Sioux Chief Manufacturing Company of Peculiar filed suit last week against the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. Sioux Chief was founded and is presently owned by the Ismert family, devout Roman Catholics who are morally opposed to the drugs covered by the "Preventive Services Mandate" from HHS, which include coverage of abortifacients.
"The Mandate illegally and unconstitutionally coerces Plaintiffs to violate their sincerely held Catholic beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties," reads the suit in part. "The Mandate also forces Plaintiffs to fund government-dictated speech that is directly at odds with the religious ethics derived from their deeply held religious beliefs and the moral teachings of the Catholic Church that they strive to embody in their business."
The attorneys for Sioux Chief who submitted the suit include Kevin H. Theriot, Esq. of the Alliance Defending Freedom and Jonathan R. Whitehead, an "allied attorney" with the ADF. In a statement, Whitehead explained that the issue at hand with this and other similar suits is that of the American constitutional tradition of religious freedom.
"Americans should be free to honor God and live according to their consciences wherever they are," said Whitehead. "They have the God-given freedom to live and transact business according to their faith, and the First Amendment has always protected that. Forcing Americans to ignore their faith just to earn a living is unprecedented, unnecessary, and unconstitutional."
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the federal government since the HHS Department's announcement last year regarding the preventive services mandate. The Obama Administration has since made compromises on the mandate, including having the insurance companies of religious businesses provide the preventive services for employees instead of the business itself.
"Contraception coverage will be offered to women by their employers' insurance companies directly, with no role for religious employers who oppose contraception," reads a fact sheet on the White House's website.
However, as seen with other various companies including Hobby Lobby Inc. and Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), Sioux Chief is the provider of health insurance for its employees, thereby inhibiting their ability to use that option.
According to the ADF, of the over 40 cases going through the courts over the HHS mandate, as of mid-January the Obama Administration has won 4 cases but lost 10.