MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

October 22, 2013

Hobby Lobby seeks hearing by Supreme Court

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Lawyers for Hobby Lobby asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to take up the company’s lawsuit against the federal health care law’s requirement that coverage include access to the morning-after pill.

Lawyers for the Oklahoma City-based craft store chain and its sister company, Mardel Christian bookstore, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case because of what they say are conflicting decisions by other courts regarding religious freedom.

“As the federal government embarks on an unprecedented foray into health care replete with multiple overlapping mandates, few issues are more important than the extent to which the government must recognize and accommodate the religious exercise of those it regulates ... Thus, Respondents agree with the government that this Court should grant the petition,” lawyers wrote in the 51-page filing.

In July, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton granted Hobby Lobby Mardel Christian bookstore a temporary exemption from a requirement that it provide insurance coverage for morning-after pills, similar emergency birth control methods and intrauterine devices. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September filed a notice in federal court saying it would appeal that decision.

Heaton had initially rejected the request to block the birth-control mandate but reconsidered his decision after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the companies were likely to prevail in the case. Heaton ruled in June that the company would not be subject to fines of up to $1.3 million a day for not offering the birth control methods.

The Green family, which owns the two companies, believes life begins at conception, and lawyers for the Greens say following the provisions of the new federal health care law would either violate their religious beliefs or cost them millions of dollars in fines.

The company’s insurance plans do offer 16 other forms of birth control mentioned in the federal health care act. The Greens object to birth control methods that can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, such as an intrauterine device or forms of emergency contraception.

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