With their legal options at an impasse for the time being, and with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against an emergency injunction on their behalf, the owners of the Oklahoma-based retailer Hobby Lobby have decided they will defy the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that requires employers to provide their employees with free contraception — including the so-called “morning after” pill that has been found to induce abortion in pregnant women.
On December 26, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to grant Hobby Lobby's request for an emergency injunction blocking implementation of the contraception mandate. As of January 1 the federal government will require thousands of American business owners — even those who say the action violates their moral and religious convictions — to begin including free birth control with their health insurance plans.
Because David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby and the Mardel Christian book retailer, which have a combined total of over 14,000 employees, has refused to honor the mandate, he and the other owners of the Christian-based company will likely face an estimated $1.3 million in federal fines per day. “The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law,” explained Green as he filed a lawsuit against the mandate last September — a suit that is still pending in the courts. “I say that's a choice no American and no American business should have to make.”
Kyle Duncan of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby in its legal claim, said in a statement after the Supreme Court ruling: “The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.”
In a statement provided to the Oklahoman newspaper, Duncan confirmed that the businesses are “not going to comply with the mandate. They're not going to offer coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in the insurance plan.” As for the potential fines Hobby Lobby and Mardel face, Duncan said, “We're just going to have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”
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