— A federal court issued an order
Friday that halts enforcement of the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate against a Colorado family-owned business while an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit challenging the mandate continues in court. The mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys obtained the first-ever order against the mandate on behalf of Hercules Industries and the Catholic family that owns it. The administration opposed the order, arguing, contrary to the U.S. Constitution, that people of faith forfeit their religious liberty once they engage in business. The mandate could subject the Newlands to millions of dollars in fines per year if they don’t abide by its requirements.
“Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith. For the time being, Hercules Industries will be able to do just that,” said Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The cost of freedom for this family could be millions of dollars per year in fines that will cripple their business if the Obama administration ultimately has its way. This lawsuit seeks to ensure that Washington bureaucrats cannot force families to abandon their faith just to earn a living. Americans don’t want politicians and bureaucrats deciding what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out.”
In his order, Senior Judge John L. Kane of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado said that the government’s arguments “are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion. As the Tenth Circuit has noted, ‘there is a strong public interest in the free exercise of religion even where that interest may conflict with [another statutory scheme]….’ Accordingly, the public interest favors entry of an injunction in this case.” Kane explained that the government’s “harm pales in comparison to the possible infringement upon Plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights.”
According to the brief Alliance Defending Freedom filed along with the motion requesting the injunction, “the mandate disregards religious conscience rights that are enshrined in federal statutory and constitutional law.” It also violates the First Amendment “due to its massive inapplicability and its discrimination among religions,” the brief explains.
Hercules owners William Newland, Paul Newland, James Newland, and Christine Ketterhagen, and its vice-president, Andrew Newland, desire to run their company in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs, including their belief that God requires respect for the dignity of human life and sexuality. Their lawsuit, Newland v. Sebelius, was filed April 30 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.