Judges weigh religious exemption for health law

Contraceptive mandate in health care law violates some business owners' religious views.
Associated Press
Sep 24, 2013

A federal appeals court is considering whether for-profit businesses can be exempted from a contraceptive mandate in the health care law because of the owners' religious views.

The law already exempts houses of worship from the requirement, but two brothers who own businesses in Ohio argue they shouldn't have to comply. The brothers, Francis and Philip M. Gilardi, say the requirement would force them to violate their Roman Catholic religious beliefs and moral values by providing contraceptives such as the Plan B pill for their employees.

At a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Harry T. Edwards was skeptical of the Gilardis' argument. He told their lawyer, Francis Manion, that sometimes religious freedom has to yield to the greater good. Edwards stressed that the Giraldis' companies, Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics of Sidney, Ohio, are not religious groups.

"I don't know see how the government doesn't prevail," said Edwards, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

The other two judges on the panel didn't indicate how they are leaning in the argument, but they had more pointed questions for Justice Department lawyer Alisa Klein than they did for Manion.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, an appointee of President George W. Bush, asked Klein whether the government is asking the Giraldis to give up their constitutional rights. Klein responded that the Giraldis weren't making a constitutional claim, but rather seeking an injunction under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Brown asked Klein whether she's saying that for religiously observant owners of corporations there is no right to free exercise of religion.

"There is no substantial burden on shareholders," Klein responded, adding that it is the corporation that has to meet the obligation.

In dismissing the Giraldis' bid for an injunction, trial court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan had rejected their contention that requiring the companies to comply with the contraceptive mandate was the same as requiring the Giraldis themselves to do so.

"The Freshway Corporations are engaged in purely commercial conduct and do not exercise religion" under the applicable law, Sullivan wrote.

In court papers, the Giraldis argued that corporations can and often do engage in "quintessentially religious acts such as tithing, donating money to charities, and committing to act in accordance with the teachings of a religious faith," as they contended their businesses do. They say they face more than $14.4 million in annual penalties if they don't comply with the contraceptive mandate.

A separate appeals court panel has barred the government from enforcing the mandate against the Giraldis while they appeal their case.

The case comes as two other appeals court circuits have issued conflicting rulings in similar cases. The Obama administration has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case involving the Hobby Lobby craft store chain and its sister company, Mardel Christian bookstore. The Oklahoma businesses won a temporary exemption from having to cover morning-after pills, similar emergency birth control methods and intrauterine devices, after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the companies were likely to prevail in the case.

But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Mennonite owners of a Pennsylvania furniture manufacturing company who claimed that their constitutional rights were violated by the contraceptive requirement.



An employer should not be able to vary the terms of the health insurance provided to the employee. If contraception is a health issue, which I believe it is, then it should be covered. Religious beliefs should not be a reason to delete any of the coverage provided. That would be like your boss telling you what you could spend your salary on.

Simple Enough II

Isn't that an oxymoron? Leave health care to the health care professionals? Seriously, Obamacare was drafted behind closed doors by who??? I highly doubt health care professionals.


The murder of unborn children (commonly known as abortion) and contraception is not health care.

The Big Dog's back

Contraception is most certainly healthcare.


Re: "Contraceptive mandate in health care law violates some business owners' religious views."

WTH, the Amish don't pay SSI or the Medicare tax for religious reasons.


But it's OK for the Nomenklatura to force Catholic, Baptist and other religion self-funded health care trusts to pay for something that is against their religious tenets?

If you agree not to use it, then why should the fascists in DC FORCE you to pay it?

If this ACA sh*t is so WONDERFUL as the Progressive wingnuts blather on about, then why not make it optional?

H*ll, round up those contrary Amish and make 'em pay like the rest of us!


I agree. Either let anyone be exempt, or let no one be exempt.

Having said that, the law is full of compromises, otherwise, it would have never passed. We Progressives don't think it's wonderful. We just think that no one can say for sure until we try it out. Let's run the experiment, and ignore the rightwing blather about how bad it is.

If anything, initial reports are good about Obamacare. Today comes news that Ohioans will be able to pick from an average of 46 health insurance plans, and that nationwide premiusms will be 16% less than the Congressional Budget Office predicted in March 2012. An Ohio family of 4 w/income of $50K, for example, could enroll in a silver plan for $282 a month with tax credits. Without Obamacare, they would pay $768 a month.


Re: "An Ohio family of 4 w/income of $50K, for example, could enroll in a silver plan for $282 a month with tax credits."

Where is this "hypothetical" family supposed to come up with an extra $3,384 annually out-of-pocket?

Trust me, without massive federal subsidies, these premiums won't stay "affordable" for long.

Since your health care is guaranteed by OH taxpayers, you have little-to-no credibility on this topic.

Like most elitists, yours is a case of: Do as I say, not as I do.


Re: "I agree. Either let anyone be exempt, or let no one be exempt."

But that isn't reality in the case of the ACA is it? Nonsense.


Re: "Let's run the experiment,"

Good to read that the Progressive wingnuts think that it's OK to "play" with the lives of 314 million Americans.

H*ll, the vast majority of Americans are financially ignorant; can't wait for this ACA debacle to run it's course when many of these same people try to figure out health insurance.

The low premiums are being set by many insurers who were formerly Medicaid providers - the network of doctors and hospitals are limited.

Most of the large insurance cos. are sitting it out and will cherry pick the healthy after the unhealthy have signed up with these original insurers.

Hence, the premiums won't stay affordable for long!

I was in the group health insurance business for several yrs. , this has DISASTER written all over it.


"Obamacare's Insurance Exchanges Will Foster A Race To The Healthcare Bottom":

"Think of an insurance plan as having three main components: (1) a premium, (2) a list of covered benefits and (3) a network of doctors, hospitals and other providers."

"In the ObamaCare exchanges, the insurers apparently believe that only sick people (who plan to spend a lot of health care dollars) pay close attention to networks.

Healthy people tend to buy on price.

Thus, by keeping fees so low that only a minority of physicians will agree to treat the patients, some insurers are able to quote very low premiums."


Yep! Eventually even well-minded socialistic programs will succumb to market forces.

Those "affordable" premiums won't stay "affordable" for long.


A socio-economic fantasy like Obama☭are needs a theme song contest.

May I suggest one from the "Wizard of OZ"?


Truth or Dare

We're not all practicing Roman Catholics, nor financially ignorant. Had my spouse listened to me some 6 yrs. ago and just dropped our ever increasing private health insurance coverage, after out of pocket expenses paid over the last 4 yrs. alone and due to a $10K deduc. per indiv., which amounts to nothing more than a catastrophic healthcare plan for the 2 of us, today we would have a savings of about $60K. :( Had to continue carrying it though for the "just incases".

Set aside the abortion topic for one moment, because we're talking birth-control and one's accessibility through their healthcare plan. Are these employees contributing wages to their healthcare/prescription plan/coverage? The fact is, family planning through birth control IS both a woman's and man's personal healthcare choice! I CHOSE to have my tubes cut, tied and cauterized after birthing 3 children in 4 yrs.. I laugh now when I remember wanting 6 children. Riiiiiight! We had no health insurance then (some 28 yrs. ago), so it was paid for OUT OF POCKET, as were our children and every copper penny of it. I know, we should of abstained, right? Just another example of one reason why some Roman Catholics leave.

Maybe the brothers could fire all employees that are non Roman Catholic and re-hire Roman Catholics that follow the same personal, religious train of thought.


Re: "$10K deduc. per indiv"

Did you set up a Health Savings Acct.?

Truth or Dare

That health Savings Acct., that requires more $$$$$ on top of your already high premium, correct, or am I wrong?


A high deductible plan is basically catastrophic ins.

Anyone with a HDP can set up an HSA and put a little over $8K (per family) in it annually.


We've yet to find out how ACA is gonna (bleep) this up.


It requires nothing if you earn nothing! You get free care and working people pick up the tab with higher taxes, penalties and fines.

Dr. Information

Absolutely correct. A friend who works for a large mail and package delivery service (name not mentioned) just handed me a letter 4 weeks ago and asked me to read this to see if he was reading it right.

I said, yes you are, looks like your deductible went from $2500 to $10000 and also your pay will decrease because they are holding more out for higher premiums due to ACA.

The truth doesn't lie. Just don't be ignorant to it people.

The Big Dog's back

The ACA hasn't gone into effect yet, so his employer is committing fraud.


My healthcare plan pays for contraceptives. Do I use that part of my plan? Nope, don't need to anymore. But I'm thinking that the anti's are missing the point that the EMPLOYER is not paying for their contraception!! It is a built in part of the plan--just as antibiotics are usually 100% a covered drug. I'm so sick and tired of these sanctimonious hypocrites who say the government is controlling everyone's lives but they sure don't have a problem telling everyone else how to measure up to their perceived lifestyle.


Re: "EMPLOYER is not paying for their contraception!!"

Yes they are.

What you're missing:

These are self-funded plans.

The employer sets up the health care trust with their MONEY and then often buys stop-loss insurance to cover any large unexpected claims.

The employer most often employs a medical management services co. to review and handle claims.


Unfortunately none of us get to choose when we get ill. None of us get to choose which illness we get.

The Big Dog's back

Speaking of sanctimonious hypocrites. pooh fits the bill.


Current group plan covers maternity, state mandate even though none of my people plan to have any more kids. Drives costs up for those who will never use already, the plan just adds to these programs.


There is a simple solution to this. Make all of your employees part time and don't offer them insurance. It seems that is what the gov't wants employers to do!

The Big Dog's back

Not all employers are arse holes like these 2.

Truth or Dare

I guess the answer is yes. Therein lies the problem. See, that recession that supposedly didn't hit everyone until 08, hit and hurt many long before, draining any savings. You know, for a rainy day, medical expenses not covered by insurance, college finances, private healthcare coverage. There were payments to be made for a college education for 2 of our children with one still in high school and 2 yrs. left and $$$'s needed to find an affordable policy. Didn't take long at all to glide through school savings. I only have another $8K to rack up in the next few months to meet my deductible, for a premium that will jump again come the first of the year. I'm in no hurry to rack up anymore expenses to get the answers needed. Can't afford it, even with insurance!!!!!!

We're damned when we do our best, damned if we can't, but buy God our tax $$$$'s surely does provide Cadillac healthcare benefits/retirement pkgs. for those that work for us, as well hefty bonuses for CEO's within the insurance industry.

The Big Dog's back

Like I've always maintained, if men were the ones that got pregnant, there would be vending machines on every corner with birth control pills.

Dr. Information

What I don't understand is how some of you think these institutions are "forcing" their beliefs on you. I've yet to walk into a Catholic hospital or know of anyone that works for one that has said to me that they hate working there because they are pouring out their beliefs on me daily. This isn't about forcing the catholic belief at all, its about them not wanting to participate in something they do not believe in 100%.

These institutions have been doing this for decades so why not allow them to continue to do so. Its not like they have been paying for birth control and now do not want to.

Before Obamacare came along, nobody had an issue with it, but now that Obama has said you have to pay for this, its become another entitlement right for some of you on the left hasn't it.

Imagine if you owned a business and a bill passed that said you have to now pass out and pay for condoms for everyone in your business because its their right to get them for free. As a business owner, you would be ticked off.

Dr. Information

Dems have opted out of the ACA, so why shouldn't business owners be given the same option? Those that think its great (haven't heard one business owner that does, can sign their business away. Those that do not, should not be forced to join this governmental cult movement. Once again our government has stepped over the line.

Truth or Dare

Hey Dr. Information; The Catholic Church is just one amongst other large religious orgs./churches with lobbyists and their not just millions but BILLIONS in INCOME $$$'s backing their religious ideology on Capitol Hill in the hopes of passing bills/laws that will effect ALL CITIZENS, ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND THEIR RIGHT TO REPRODUCE OR NOT. Of which by the way, has not one thing to do with Abortion! Wouldn't want to prevent them, now would we?!

Here is just a little excerpt from the organization "Americans United for Separation of Church and State", vol. 65, #9 and dated Oct. 2012; "Groups To Watch Out For; The Religious Right Top 10". Number 5 on that list is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lobbying expenditures; $27 MILLION (rounded up, not down). "The USCCB for years has lobbied in Washington, D.C. to make the hierarchy's ultra-conservative stands on REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, marriage, school vouchers and other public policies the law for all to follow. This year, the USCCB escalated its efforts in the culture war arena, forming the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. Led by Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, the committee seeks to REDUCE AMERICANS' ACCESS TO BIRTH CONTROL, block efforts to expand marriage equality and ensure federal funding of church-affiliated social services, even if the services fail to meet government requirements. American Catholics often disagree with the Hierarchy's stance on social issues, but the bishops clout in Washington, D.C., and the state legislatures is undeniable".

One doesn't have to be employed by a Corporation whose owners are Roman Catholic to be told what we should and shouldn't be able to do in regards to reproductive rights! They, the Churches, and not just the Roman Catholic Church have joined forces and BILLIONS IN $$$$'s to make such laws, "the law of the land"! If you wish, I'm more than happy to post the other 9 orgs./churches and their MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR REVENUE that is being used to influence such decisions.

Dr. Information

And Unions do not organize and throw millions of dollars to get things their way? How about gays and lesbians? If you are going to point the finger, make sure you point it in all guilty directions.