December 8, 2014 — A U.S. District Court has granted a Minnesota manufacturing company a permanent injunction from the federal contraceptive coverage rules being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) because of the owner's religious objections to birth control, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Gregory Hall, the owner of American Manufacturing, sought an exemption from the contraceptive coverage rules for his company on the grounds that he is an ordained Catholic deacon and contraception is against his religious beliefs.
The permanent injunction was granted as the result of settlement negotiations between Hall's attorneys and the Department of Justice, according to Thomas Mathews, one of Hall's lawyers. Mathews said that DOJ has been negotiating settlements in similar cases nationwide since the Supreme Court ruled in June that certain corporations cannot be required to offer contraceptive coverage in their health plans if their owners have religious objections. The American Manufacturing case is the first such settlement in Minnesota, he said.
Potential Effect, Comments
About half of American Manufacturing's approximately 40 employees are women, and it is not known whether they also object to contraception, according to the Star Tribune.
According to the Star Tribune, the case garnered "relatively little attention" at the time of the ruling, which was released the night before Thanksgiving, but it drew notice after Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota released a statement.
"It is unbelievable that in 2014, there's still a fight going on about whether women should have access to birth control," Sarah Stoesz, president of the organization, said, adding, "We know firsthand that access to birth control is both a health care and economic concern for women."
Meanwhile, Hall said in a statement from his attorneys, "I hope that the results ... will encourage others to follow the dictates of their religious beliefs and stand up and assert their fundamental and legal rights" (Olson, Star Tribune, 12/4).