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Missouri Company Wins Its Battle Against Obama HHS Mandate

by Joe Ortwerth, Steven Ertelt | Jefferson City, MO | LifeNews.com | 1/2/13 4:28 PM

National

A second business owner in the state of Missouri has won its battle against the Obama HHS mandate as a federal court granted it a reprieve from the Obama Administration’s contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.

The U.S. District Court for Western Missouri issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the law against American Pulverizer Company of St. Louis. The firm is owned by Paul and Henry Griesedieck and members of the family are pro-life Christians who don’t want to be forced to pay for drugs for their employees that may cause abortions.

In their lawsuit, the Griesediecks contend that compliance with the Obamacare mandate would force them to violate their religious and moral beliefs.  In their lawsuit, the Griesediecks state that “it would be sinful for us to pay for services that have a significant risk of causing the death of embryonic lives.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Dorr ruled that the plaintiffs were likely to be able to prove that Obamacare “substantially  burdens their exercise of religion…Plaintiffs must either pay for a health plan that includes drugs and services to which they religiously object or incur fines.”

Judge Dorr noted that the federal government contends that the Griesedieck Companies are secular entities, and thus cannot “exercise religion.”  Judge Dorr responded by saying:  “There are many entities under which an individual can run a business…Does an individual’s choice to run his business as one of these entities strip that individual of his right to exercise his religious beliefs?”

The Griesediecks are represented by the American Center for Law and Justice.  ACLJ welcomed news of the injunction, saying,  “Paul and Henry Griesedieck face a stark and unavoidable choice: abandon their beliefs to stay in business, or abandon their businesses in order to stay true to their beliefs.  That is a choice that the federal  government, bound by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, may not impose.”

In addition to concluding that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act the mandate and its penalties would substantially burden plaintiffs’ free exercise rights, the court held that for 1st Amendment purposes, the mandate is not a neutral law of general applicability.

The court wrote: “Plaintiffs have shown to the court’s satisfaction for the purposes of these initial proceedings, that the ACA mandate is not generally applicable because it does not apply to grandfathered health plans, religious employers, or employers with fewer than fifty employees.  Specifically, plaintiffs argue that the ACA mandate’s exemptions clearly prefer secular purposes over religious purposes and some religious purposes over other religious purposes.  Burdens cannot be selectively imposed only on conduct motivated by religious belief.”

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The U.S. District court ruling comes on the heels of a major decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal legal proceedings in the state of Missouri.  The 8th Circuit issued a temporary injunction halting enforcement of the abortion drug mandate against O’Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis, citing religious freedom concerns as well.

The contraceptive and abortion drug edict was issued by Health and Human Services (HHS)  Secretary Kathleen  Sebelius.  It requires that every health insurance plan issued in the United States by an insurer must include coverage at no cost for all “contraceptives” approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.  That includes abortifacient drugs such as Ella and Plan B, often referred to as “emergency contraceptives” or the “morning-after pill.”