March 14, 2013 — The owner of a private business in Largo, Fla., on Tuesday filed the latest lawsuit requesting an injunction against the federal contraceptive coverage rules, arguing that providing the coverage to employees violates his beliefs as a Southern Baptist, CQ HealthBeat reports (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 3/13).
The rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), require that most health plans cover contraceptive services. On Feb. 1, the Obama administration proposed an accommodation for religiously affiliated employers that would ensure that their health plans do not have to pay for contraceptive coverage. However, the accommodation was not extended to for-profit businesses (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/1).
The case was filed by Thomas Beckwith -- who owns a majority stake of Beckwith Electric, a company with 168 employees -- in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Beckwith specifically cited his opposition to including coverage of emergency contraception in any health plan offered to his employees. Beckwith also said he filed the case to "fight against the religious persecution that his ancestors thought they had escaped" when they left England for America in 1626.
Beckwith is represented by the Thomas More Law Center, a law firm that represents clients in so-called religious liberty cases.
According to the Becket Fund, a law center representing other plaintiffs in other challenges to the contraceptive coverage rules, more than 50 suits -- 21 of which are by for-profit businesses -- have been filed. CQ HealthBeat reports that judges have differed in their ruling in such cases, indicating that the issue will likely reach the Supreme Court (CQ HealthBeat, 3/13).
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