Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Plain-owned firm loses to Obamacare
BY BRIAN WALLACE, Staff Writer
A cabinetmaker based in East Earl has lost another round in its lawsuit against the federal government over the contraception provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare."
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. in December sued the U.S. secretaries of labor, health and human services and the treasury, alleging it would be "sinful and immoral" for the company to comply with the law by paying for or supporting contraception.
The company's Mennonite owners objected to the law's requirement that they provide health insurance coverage for birth-control products such as Plan B, the "morning after" pill.
In January, a federal judge rejected the company's request for an injunction to bar the law from taking effect until the case was resolved.
The company appealed that decision and requested a stay until its appeal is resolved.
On Thursday, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the company's request for a stay by a 2-1 vote.
An attorney for the company could not immediately be reached for comment.
The lawsuit is one of more than 40 filed throughout the country by businesses and other employers objecting to the contraception provisions of Obamacare.
In its response to the suit, Justice Department attorneys argued the law imposes "no substantial burden on Conestoga because a secular, for-profit corporation does not exercise religion."
They further argue that, because the regulations apply to the company, not to its owners, "they do not substantially burden" their "religious exercise."
The government attorneys also pointed out that the decision regarding whether to use contraceptives rests with Conestoga employees, not with their employer, just as it did prior to the Affordable Care Act taking effect.
Employers that refuse to follow the law face fines of up to $100 a day per employee, which would total about $95,000 daily for Conestoga.
"[A] secular, for-profit corporation does not exercise religion."
U.S. Justice Department