A federal court on Friday blocked the enforcement of the so-called contraception mandate for a large Christian book publisher.
Tyndale House Publishers alleged that being required to provide contraceptives like Plan B, ella, and intrauterine devices to female employees violated the owners' religious liberties. The company was represented in court by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group.
The contraception mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, requires employers to provide their employees with health insurance plans that cover contraceptive drugs and devices at no cost.
Conservative and religious groups have claimed the contraception mandate violates the religious liberties of employers who are morally opposed to the use of contraception. Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers opposed being required to cover Plan B, ella, and intrauterine devices, claiming the contraceptives prevented fertilized eggs from implanting on the uterine wall and thereby induced abortions.
A previous court had rejected a similar allegation, holding that the "decision to use contraceptives, the objectionable act, was ultimately in the hands of a third party." However, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said this case was "sufficiently distinguishable" from the prior case because Tyndale House Publishers acted as its own insurer and "itself directly pays for the health care services used by its plan participants."
Nearly 97 percent of the company, which employes 260 people, is owned by the Tyndale House Foundation, a non-profit religious organization.
"Because it is the coverage, not just the use, of the contraceptives at issue to which the plaintiffs object, it is irrelevant that the use of the contraceptives depends on the independent decisions of third parties," the court added.
The court's order is the third injunction against the mandate nationwide, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom.
[Woman holding birth control pills via Shutterstock]