Judge: Hobby Lobby Must Offer Morning-After Pill

Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. must provide the morning-after pill and week-after birth control pill to their employees as part of their insurance coverage, per a judge’s ruling on Monday.

US District Judge Joe Heaton denied a request by the arts and crafts company to prevent the government from enforcing parts of the health care law that mandates insurance coverage for contraceptives the company’s Christian owners believe are objectionable, reports ABC News.

Hobby Lobby and a sister company, Mardel Inc., sued the government in September over the health care mandate, saying that it violates the owners’ religious beliefs.

They contend that the morning-after an week-after birth control pills are essentially abortion because they prevent an egg, even if it is fertilized, from implanting in a woman’s womb. They also object to covering some kinds of intrauterine devices.

A government lawyer spoke at a hearing earlier this month, stating that the drugs do not cause abortions and the US has a compelling interest in having insurance cover them.

Yahoo! News notes that the judge, in his 28-page ruling, stated that churches and other religious organizations have been granted constitutional protection from the birth control mandate, but he stated, “Hobby Lobby and Mardel are not religious organizations.” Heaton added:

“Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”

Heaton added that “the court is not unsympathetic” to Hobby Lobby’s wish, but the ruling stands, and Hobby Lobby will have to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and week-after pill. Hobby Lobby’s lawyers state that the companies’ owners will appeal the ruling.