Another federal appeals court has issued a ruling against the Department of Health and Human Service's (HHS) contraception mandate, which requires employers to provide free abortion-causing contraceptives to their employees. On January 30 a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the mandate on behalf of Grote Industries, an Indiana-based automotive lighting manufacturer whose Catholic owners sued the government to permanently stop the rule because its abortion-pill provision violates their moral convictions.
The Seventh Circuit panel, which overruled a district court ruling denying the injunction, noted that the Grote family claims the mandate would compel them “to materially cooperate in a grave moral wrong contrary to the teachings of their church,” and refusing to obey the mandate would result in “several financial penalties.”
The panel concluded in a 2-1 decision that “the Grote Family and Grote Industries have established a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of their RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] claim.” The court predicted that the family would “suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction pending appeal, and the balance of harms tips in their favor.”
In December the same panel issued an identical injunction on behalf of an Illinois-based business, Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, also Catholic-owned. In the latest ruling the panel noted that in “all important respects, this case is identical to Korte; our analysis there applies with equal force here. If anything, the Grote Family and Grote Industries have a more compelling case for an injunction pending appeal.”
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