St. Louis business owner will appeal a federal court decision that will
require his company to comply with the Obama Administration's
contraceptive and abortion
drug mandate. Attorneys for Frank O'Brien say they will appeal
the adverse ruling to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
District Judge Carol Jackson dismissed the lawsuit filed by O'Brien and
his company O'Brien Industries. O'Brien argued that the
contraceptive mandate violates his First Amendment right as a business
owner to the free exercise of his religion.
Under the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate, all health insurance plans issued in the United States must
include coverage of any and all "contraceptives" approved by the Food
and Drug Administration. The federal edict requires coverage
without co-pays of drugs and devices that function as abortifacients,
such as Ella, Plan B, and intrauterine devices.
O'Brien is a
devoted Catholic, and he contends that the mandate compels him to
underwrite coverage of drugs that violate core religious doctrines of
his faith under the threat of punitive fines. "We face a choice
between complying with these requirements in violation of our religious
beliefs, or paying ruinous fines that would have
a crippling impact on our ability to survive economically," the lawsuit reads.
Jackson ruled in remarkably dishonest fashion that the contraceptive
mandate did not impose a "substantial burden on [O'Brien's] religious
exercise." She stated that the federal edict only required
"indirect" financial support of practices O'Brien found objectionable,
and that he and his employees were free to refrain from using
The judge's reasoning ignores the fact that
O'Brien and his business are still going to have to pay for the
availability of abortifacient drugs and contraceptives in very direct
financial terms. If they fail to comply with the contraceptive
dictate, they will have to pay very direct financial penalties of $100
per day per employee.
O'Brien Industries employs 87 people, so the
contraceptive mandate penalty would amount to $8,700 per day, or nearly $3.2 million on an annual basis.
O'Brien is a classic example of many business owners who view their
companies as extensions of their religious values and beliefs. The
corporation's website states firmly that "our conduct is guided by the
Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments." A statue of the Sacred
Heart commands a prominent place in the company's lobby. O'Brien
Industries also operates a charitable fund called the St. Nicholas Fund.
"The court saw no difference between paying the salary of an employee
who might use that salary to go out and buy things the boss objects to,
and having the boss buy the objectionable things directly and hand them
to the employee," says Francis Manion of the American Center for Law and
Justice, which is representing O'Brien Industries in the case.
is a legally and logically flawed opinion," Manion adds, "and we are
confident that the Court of Appeals will reverse the decision of the
district court. It defies logic, common sense, and applicable
O'Brien Industries is one of about 80 religious
institutions, organizations, and businesses that have filed legal
challenges to the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate issued by
Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
The latest to do so is Tyndale House Publishers, a large Christian
publishing house that prints and produces Bibles and other religious
"Tyndale and its owners are Christians who are
committed to Biblical principles, including the belief that all human
beings are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of
their conception," the lawsuit asserts. "The regulatory
mandate...forces Tyndale to provide and pay for drugs and devices that
its owners believe can cause the death of human beings created in the
image and likeness of God."
"Bible publishers should be free to
do business according to the Book that they publish," says Matt Bowman,
senior legal counsel for the Alliance
Defending Freedom, which is representing Tyndale House in the litigation.
say that a Bible publisher is not religious is patently absurd," Bowman
continues. "Federal government bureaucrats are not qualified to
decide what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith
may be lived out. Obamacare demands that religious employers
choose between two poison pills: either desert your faith by
complying, or resist and be punished."
Paul Rondeau, executive director of American Life League, is concerned about where the actions of the
Obama Adminstration to trample religious liberties will
lead. "History tragically teaches us that if our government can
abolish one constitutional right, then all constitutional rights are put
"This path sets a dangerous precedent that First
Amendment rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of association,
freedom of the press and the rights to assemble and petition the
government may be just as easily curtailed in the future. We call
on all citizens to tell their elected representatives that this erosion
of rights must not stand."