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Pa. Mennonite-Owned Business Files Lawsuit Against Contraceptive Coverage Rules

Pa. Mennonite-Owned Business Files Lawsuit Against Contraceptive Coverage Rules

December 7, 2012 — A Mennonite-owned secular business in Pennsylvania has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal contraceptive coverage rules that are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/7).

The rules require most health plans issued or renewed after Aug. 1 to cover contraceptive services without copayments or deductibles. The government has given religiously affiliated employers until August 2013 to come into compliance with the contraceptive coverage rules while it continues to work with them on accommodations (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/6).

Conestoga Wood Specialties owner Norman Hahn and his family object to providing some forms of contraception, such as emergency contraception, that they believe cause abortion. The lawsuit states that it would be "sinful and immoral for the company to participate in, pay for, facilitate or otherwise support any contraception" that could result in an abortion.

Chuck Proctor, who is representing Conestoga Wood Specialties and is seeking a preliminary injunction against the contraceptive rules, said Hahn believes that life begins at conception.

The lawsuit argues that the ACA's exceptions do not apply to Conestoga and that the employer will be required to pay a daily fine of $100 for each of its 950 workers for not complying with the rules. "They'd be bankrupt in a week," according to Proctor.

The cabinetmaker is the latest in an increasing number of Catholic- and Christian-owned businesses to challenge the contraceptive rules. Proctor said the Conestoga Wood Specialties suit likely marks the first time a Mennonite-owned company has challenged the law's contraception coverage rules (Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/7).