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Hobby Lobby loses appeal of contraception coverage

A district court previously found that secular, for-profit companies had no constitutional right to the free exercise of religion

The 10th Circuit on Thursday denied Hobby Lobby’s request to be exempted from the portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that requires employers to provide insurance coverage for emergency contraceptives.

The owners of the arts and crafts retail chain argue that the mandate violates their Christian beliefs. The contraceptives at issue—the “morning after” and “week after” birth control pills—prevent ovulation or fertilization. Because they can keep fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterine wall, Hobby Lobby’s founder David Green says, they are tantamount to abortion.

In November, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton denied the company’s request for a preliminary injunction against the contraceptive mandate. In his ruling, Heaton said that although “the court [was] not unsympathetic” to the retailer’s dilemma, he had “not found any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and [sister company] Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.”

The company, which says it would face up to $1.3 million in daily fines if it does not comply with the mandate by Jan. 1, plans to appeal the verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of the health care law, see:

Hobby Lobby sues not to cover morning-after pill

Obamacare faces another lawsuit over contraception coverage

Cheat Sheet: What employers need to know about the Affordable Care Act

Sears, Darden Restaurants announce defined-contribution programs for employee health benefits

Alanna Byrne

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