50th Suit Filed Against HHS Contraceptive Mandate

The CEO of an electric company in Florida has filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services over the "preventive services" mandate, making it the 50th such suit filed against HHS.

Thomas Beckwith, CEO of Beckwith Electric of Largo, filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.

"This is a case about religious freedom," reads the first point under the "Nature of the Action" section of the 48-page suit.

"The Mandate forces employers and individuals to violate their religious beliefs because it requires employers and individuals to pay for and provide insurance from insurance issuers which fund and directly provide for drugs, devices, and services which violate their deeply held religious beliefs."

Beckwith is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center. Erin Elizabeth Mersino, trial counsel for TMLC, told The Christian Post that her organization had a history of suing over the contents of the Affordable Care Act and related matters.

"The Thomas More Law Center has brought several challenges against Obamacare. TMLC brought the first challenge against Obamacare arguing that it violated the commerce clause in 2010," said Mersino.

"TMLC was the second in the nation to get an injunction against the HHS Mandate, and has since successfully enjoined the mandate for their client Thomas Monaghan as well. Due to our successes, we have been contacted by many business owners to help protect their rights to religious freedom."

Since the Obama Administration announced in February 2011 that there would be a mandate for all employers to cover contraception and abortifacients in their insurance policies or face stiff fines, dozens of suits have been filed by businesses, religious groups, and others.

While since February 2011 the administration has offered modified mandates that provide more exemptions, many groups such as the Roman Catholic Church have stated that the concessions are insufficient.

The most recent came last month when the administration opted to expand the number of religious entities that could be exempted from providing contraception and abortifacients to include social service organizations, religious universities, and religious hospitals.

Last week, mere days before Beckwith became number 50, Westminster Theological Seminary of Glenside, Penn., filed a motion to intervene on behalf of East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University, which sued HHS over the mandate in October 2012.

"The large number of challenges to the mandate show that so many people around the country recognize that this is an unprecedented despoiling of our constitutional freedoms," said Mersino of TMLC.

"Plaintiffs are seeking protection from the mandate which forces them to choose – violate your sincerely held religious beliefs or pay ruinous fines for non-compliance with the mandate."

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