Appeals Court Suspends Contraception Mandate Against Minn. Business

An appeals court has issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the Obama administration's abortion pill mandate against a Minnesota business, whose Catholic owner argued it violated their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on Friday suspended the mandate, which requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs to employees, against Annex Medical, Inc., a Minnesota-based corporation that manufactures medical devices.

"Americans have the God-given freedom to live and do business according to their faith," Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said in a statement following the order. "Honoring God is not just important within the four walls of a church; it is important every day, in all areas of life, including in our work."

Stuart Lind, whose business has 16 full-time and two part-time employees, is a devout Catholic, who is steadfastly committed to biblical principles and the teachings of the Catholic Church, according to his complaint.

Lind said his religious beliefs compel him to provide for the physical health of the employees at Annex Medical, so he has provided a group health plan for them. The Affordable Care Act does not require a business with fewer than fifty employees to provide employees with a health insurance plan.

However, Lind recently discovered that the group's health plan provides coverage for abortifacient drugs, sterilization, and contraception supplies and prescription medications. He believes that paying for a group health plan that includes such coverage is "sinful and immoral," because it requires him or the business he controls "to pay for contraception, sterlization, abortifacient drugs and related education and counseling, in violation of his sincere and deeply-held religious beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church."

One of the church's teachings is "the belief that life involves the creative action of God, and is therefore sacred."

The business owner wasn't able to secure a plan without the objectionable coverage, because the statute and regulations require all insurers to include such coverage in all group health plans. As a result, Lind arranged to discontinue Annex Medical's group health plan from Jan. 31.

Calling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate "unconstitutional," Bowman said that the government cannot give and take away freedom when it pleases. "The court did the right thing in issuing its order, and we are confident that this unconstitutional mandate's days are numbered."

Bowman's Arizona-based group is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

More than 40 lawsuits have challenged the requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that for-profit companies offer workers insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices and other birth control methods.

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