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LISTEN: Hobby Lobby Senior Counsel talks case against U.S. government over healthcare mandate


UNDATED (WKZO) - Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts retailer founded by a Christian family, has siled to sue the Obama administration to stop a mandate under the federal healthcare reform law to provide drugs such as the morning-after pill to employees through their health insurance.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma, seeks a permanent injunction against the government on behalf of Hobby Lobby and other companies that have religious convictions against abortion.

 "These abortion-causing drugs go against our faith," said David Green, founder and chief executive officer of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, in a call with reporters. "We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate."

Lori Windham spoke with WKZO's The Trifecta Monday about the Green's case. Windham is the Senior Counsel representing Hobby Lobby. Listen to the audio above. 

Hobby Lobby is facing a January 1 deadline to comply with the mandate. Should it refuse, it would face a penalty of up to $1.3 million per day, under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a lawyer representing the company said.

The company has 13,240 employees in 41 states and is based in Oklahoma City, where it began in 1972. There are over 10 Hobby Lobby stores throughout the state of Michigan.

Hobby Lobby is the largest and only non-Catholic company to sue over the health mandate, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit, public interest law firm in Washington, D.C., that specializes in church-state law and is helping litigate the case.

"Hobby Lobby should never be put in the position of choosing its faith over its business," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund.

The privately owned company, which is self-insured, does not object to providing preventive birth-control coverage to its employees and only objects to drugs such as the morning-after and week-after pill that prevent a fertilized human egg from implantation, Duncan said.

There are 27 other lawsuits pending against the government over the provisions of the healthcare mandate, most of them on behalf of nonprofit organizations that have been granted another year to comply with the law, Duncan said.

In July, a Colorado-based company with 300 employees won a temporary injunction against the government mandate. In the Colorado case, attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department asserted that individual religious beliefs cannot be used by a business to avoid laws that are imposed on the rest of the country.

(story adopted from REUTERS article found here)