Although the Obamacare provision that requires employers to provide contraceptive services free of charge contains an exemption for religious organizations that believe birth control is against their beliefs, conservative Christian institutions continue to fight against it as a perceived affront to their religious liberty. Two prominent lawsuits brought against Obamacare’s birth control mandate have already been dismissed, but that hasn’t stopped an Oklahoma-based crafts supply chain from adding their own legal challenge to the law.
Hobby Lobby, a large chain of craft stores owned by conservative evangelical Christians, filed a federal lawsuit against the contraception mandate today, claiming they should have the right to deny coverage for emergency contraception to over 13,000 employees across 40 states. Hobby Lobby’s owners, the Green family, claim the Obamacare requirement to provide employer-based coverage for that contraceptive service violates their freedom of religion and speech:
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the mandate against the Green family and its businesses. [...]
“The Green family’s religious beliefs forbid them from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion-causing drugs and devices,” the lawsuit said. “The administrative rule at issue in this case runs roughshod over the Green family’s religious beliefs, and the beliefs of millions of other Americans, by forcing them to provide health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, as well as related education and counseling.”
The Greens are using their own religious decision to avoid contraception to deny thousands of employees access to affordable birth control. They’re also misleading in referring to emergency contraception as an “abortion-causing drug.” The morning after pill does not terminate a pregnancy, but rather acts exactly as daily birth control pills do to prevent fertilization from occurring.
As President Obama put it in his own defense of the health law’s birth control provision, “it is not fair” for religious employers to deny access to contraceptive services to their non-religious employees. But challenges to broaden Obamacare’s existing exemption for religiously-based organizations — such as the anti-choice legislators in Missouri who are currently attempting to force a bill through the state legislature that would allow any employer, like the Green family, to deny contraception coverage for religious reasons — are moving the goalposts into dangerous territory.