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Judge Halts Illinois’ Version of the HHS-Abortion Mandate

by Steven Ertelt | Springfield, IL | LifeNews.com | 1/15/13 4:05 PM

State

A pro-life legal group today says a state judge in Illinois has halted the Illinois version of the Obama-HHS abortion pill mandate, that requires religious companies to pay for drugs for their employees that may cause abortions.

Today, Judge Terence M. Sheen of the DuPage County Circuit Court granted Triune Health Group’s motion for a temporary restraining order against Illinois’ contraception mandate, which forces coverage of abortifacients and contraceptives in group healthcare plans.

The Thomas More Society said the temporary restraining order comes on the heels of a preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve. That restraining order granted Triune Health Group temporary relief from the federal HHS mandated healthcare coverage of abortifacients, sterilizations, and contraceptives.

“The ruling today is a victory for religious liberty and the right of conscience,” said Peter Breen executive director and legal counsel for the Thomas More Society. “Religious liberty rights don’t end at the four walls of the church. In this pluralistic society, we don’t force people to abandon their religious beliefs merely because they are engaged in the marketplace.”

Breen told LifeNews this was the first ruling by an Illinois court that the state’s contraception mandate for health insurance may be preempted by Illinois laws protecting conscience and religious freedom.

He said the court will hear argument on the Illinois Attorney General’s motion to transfer the case to Cook County Circuit Court on February 6. Plaintiffs oppose the motion because Triune Health Group is located in DuPage County.

Earlier this month, Triune Health Group was the tenth entity to receive a favorable judicial ruling preventing enforcement of the pro-abortion HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare. http://www.lifenews.com/2013/01/03/catholic-health-company-10th-to-stop-hhs-mandate-enforcement/

Attorneys for Jubilee Campaign’s Law of Life Project and Thomas More Society filed federal and state court motions for preliminary injunction to stop the state of Illinois and the Obama administration from imposing confiscatory fines and other legal sanctions on a Catholic health management company for exercising their state and federal free exercise of religion rights not to be forced to pay for drugs that may cause abortions for their employees.

Christopher and Mary Anne Yep, the devout Catholic founders and owners of Triune Health Group, are behind the complaints and did not want to severe monetary penalties and other regulatory requirements to provide insurance coverage and pay for abortifacients, sterilizations, and contraceptives that violate their conscience. The HHS mandate requires employees to include birth control and potentially abortion-causing drugs in their employee health plans and a narrowly-drawn religious exemption excludes most companies and groups.

The Yeps embrace a belief which is embedded in Triune’s mission statement that each individual be “treated with the human dignity and respect that God intended.” They say the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, administered by HHS and the other federal agencies named in the lawsuit, as well as the Illinois insurance contraceptive mandate, administered by Illinois’ Department of Insurance, require the Triune to provide and pay for abortion-related and contraceptive coverage for its employees and their families.

They say that imposes a gravely oppressive burden on the Yeps’ deeply held religious beliefs.

“The federal and state governments are coercing our clients to violate their conscientious convictions in a fashion that is completely at odds with the resounding declarations of our Founding Fathers and our modern Supreme Court jurisprudence,” said Samuel B. Casey, Managing Director and General Counsel for the Jubilee Campaign’s Law of Life Project.

Casey praised the Yeps’ courage in standing up for their fundamental rights, applauding the Yeps for “taking a stand to defend their right to run their business in a way that does not conflict with their faith and religious free conscience.”

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Casey told LifeNews in a statement, “The Yeps and their company, Triune Health Group, are far from alone. More than 47 lawsuits like the Yeps’ federal suit are pending in the federal courts with some courts granting the preliminary injunctive relief requested and others declining to do so.”

He said the most recent polling data from December 2012 shows Americans support a religious exemption to the HHS contraceptive mandate for individuals and organizations like the Yeps and Triune.