by Dominique Ludvigson
Tom Monaghan, founder and former owner of Domino’s Pizza, is the latest business owner to file a lawsuit challenging Obamacare’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization as “preventive services” in their health care plans.
The Catholic, pro-life advocate and philanthropist filed suit in a Michigan federal district court late Friday on behalf of himself and his property management company, Domino’s Farms Corporation, which operates an office park. Monaghan argues that his religious beliefs require him to provide health insurance for his employees and their families, and to do so in a manner consistent with Catholic teaching regarding the sanctity of human life.
For-profit employers like Monaghan with religious or moral objections to providing drugs and services that violate their consciences have no way out of Obamacare’s conscience-crushing HHS mandate. They face fines of $100 per day per employee if they stay true to their consciences and operate health care plans that do not comply with the mandate. Alternatively, they face fines of up to $2000 per employee per year for dropping health insurance coverage to avoid having to comply with the mandate. For Monaghan, neither is a viable option.
Monaghan’s plight is a dramatic illustration of the coercive “incentives” built into Obamacare, which has concentrated broad powers in the hands of the federal government. This gross government overreach even extends to commandeering religious employers into directly paying for drugs and services that violate their faith despite conscientious objections.
An extremely narrow exemption effectively only protects houses of worship. Business owners’ ability to run their businesses consistent with their religious and moral convictions is not protected. Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would further erode the free exercise of religion, restricting religious believers’ ability to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives.
The case is yet another reminder of the necessity of repealing Obamacare and the assault on religious freedom and limited government it represents.
Monaghan joins over 110 plaintiffs in over 40 lawsuits around the country challenging the mandate. His lawsuit was filed just one week after Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Mennonite-owned cabinet manufacturer based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with 950 employees and plants around the country, challenged the HHS mandate based on its owners’ belief that it would be “sinful and immoral for the company to participate in, pay for, facilitate, or otherwise support” abortion-inducing drugs.
For-profit religious employers are not the only victims of Obamacare’s bureaucratic overreach. On the same day Monaghan’s lawsuit was filed, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty argued in a federal appeals court on behalf of two non-profit religious colleges that the government’s temporary enforcement suspension against some religious employers, which the Administration misleadingly labels a “safe harbor,” is insufficient to protect religious employers like Belmont Abbey College and Wheaton College from the abortion-drug mandate.
This post was first published by the Heritage Foundation on its blog The Foundry, December 18,2012