January 16, 2013 — The federal government on Tuesday appealed a ruling that granted a preliminary injunction to the owners of a Christian publishing company who oppose the federal contraceptive coverage rules, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Frommer, AP/ San Francisco Chronicle, 1/15).
Tyndale House Publishers filed a lawsuit against HHS, the Treasury Department and the Labor Department on Oct. 2, one day after the company was required to offer contraceptive coverage to its 260 full-time employees (Schoenberg, Bloomberg, 1/15). Specifically, Tyndale's owners object to covering emergency contraception and intrauterine devices, which they consider equivalent to abortion.
The lawsuit states that the company has been denied a "religious employer" accommodation because HHS maintains that any for-profit company does not qualify as a religious entity. According to court filings, Tyndale is an incorporated business that is owned by Tyndale House Foundation, a not-for-profit that "receives 96.5% of all of Tyndale's distributed profits."
In November, U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted Tyndale the preliminary injunction (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/19/12). Walton ruled that the contraceptive coverage requirement "substantially burdens" the company's religious beliefs by imposing "considerable" penalties for noncompliance. Tyndale would be fined $100 daily per employee for refusing to provide the coverage (Bloomberg, 1/15).
Ill. Judge Blocks State Contraceptive Coverage Law
In related news, DuPage County, Ill., Circuit Court Judge Terence Sheen granted Triune Health Group, a for-profit company based in Illinois, a temporary restraining order against a state requirement that employee health plans include contraceptive coverage, the AP/State Journal-Register reports (AP/State Journal-Register, 1/16).
Earlier this month, a federal judge granted Triune a temporary injunction against the federal contraceptive coverage rules. The company's Catholic owners, Christopher and Mary Anne Yep, object to covering EC or sterilization in their employee health plan because they believe the practices are "gravely wrong and sinful," according to the lawsuit (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/7).
The latest decision is the first state court ruling to find that laws protecting religious freedom preempt Illinois' contraceptive coverage law, according to the Thomas More Society (AP/State Journal-Register, 1/16).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership