In the first case to challenge Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate on behalf of a private business, a Missouri man has sued several of Barack Obama’s hand-picked appointees over their decision to require him and his business to pay for abortions.
The action was filed in federal court in Missouri on behalf of Frank O’Brien Jr. and his O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC. It names as defendants the radically pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services, Timothy Geithner of the Treasury Department and Hilda Solis of the Labor Department as well as their agencies.
The American Center for Law and Justice brought the action and explained O’Brien is chairman of the holding company that runs several businesses that explore, mine and process refractory and ceramic raw materials.
“The HHS mandate would require business people like our client to leave their religious beliefs at home every day as a condition of doing business in our society,” said Francis J. Manion, senior counsel of the ACLJ. “The HHS mandate tells people like Frank O’Brien that they have to choose between conducting their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, or conducting their business in a manner consistent with the government’s values. The constitution does not allow the government to impose such a choice.”
O’Brien is a Catholic, and his company website plainly states its mission “is to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.”
The company’s statement of values explains, “Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone’s personal belief system.”
O’Brien employs 87 people and has company programs to help workers purchase their own homes, send children to college and retire.
The lawsuit said the government mandate “imposes a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ free exercise of religion by coercing plaintiffs to choose between conducting their business in accordance with their religious beliefs or paying substantial penalties to the government.”
“O’Brien and other people of faith aren’t looking to stand in the way of anybody’s access to anything,” explained Manion. “They just don’t want the government forcing them to pay for services that go against their sincerely held beliefs.”
He continued, “The state of Missouri has its own ‘contraceptives mandate,’ but, unlike the Obama administration’s Department of HHS, Missouri respects and protects those employers, like Frank O’Brien, with religious objections. There is no good reason why the federal government couldn’t – and shouldn’t – do the same. The Constitution, in fact, demands nothing less.”
The case asks the court to declare Obama’s mandate in violation of the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.
It also requests a permanent injunction halting the mandate for those who have religious objections.
The case filing reports O’Brien “holds to the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. Actions to terminate an innocent human life are gravely sinful.”
The controversy over Obama’s demand that private companies – and even religious organizations – pay for abortifacients no matter their religious views has erupted into a firestorm in recent days.
Famously, 30-year-old law student Sandra Fluke appeared before a Democrat committee in Congress to request subsidized birth control for herself. She became the target of harsh comments by radio talk show icon Rush Limbaugh, who later apologized.
Limbaugh’s remarks drew criticism from a number of left-leaning figures who similarly have had harsh words for women, including entertainer Bill Maher, who supported Obama’s re-election bid with a $1 million contribution.