Hobby Lobby ruling aids Michigan woman's lawsuit

Hobby Lobby. Courtesy of the Becket Fund.

Following the Hobby Lobby decision upholding religious freedom, a woman business owner has secured a court injunction against the HHS mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives and abortifacient drugs.

Karen Mersino, who co-owns Mersino Management Company with her husband in Michigan, welcomed the ruling. “It’s a real win for religious freedom,” she said July 10.

The July 9 injunction from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit concerns the company’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The injunction reports that attorneys for the Mersinos’ company conferenced with government attorneys after the Supreme Court’s June 30 Hobby Lobby decision.

In the conference, the government’s attorneys dropped their opposition to the injunction request.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center is representing the Mersinos’ company.

Erin Mersino, senior trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, said the injunction gives “immediate relief from the illegal aims of the HHS mandate that violates our clients’ sincerely held religious beliefs.”

She said the business owners “truly live out their faith everyday through the integrity with which they treat others, through their numerous charitable works, and through their overwhelmingly selfless devotion to their community and Church.”

The HHS mandate’s required coverage for sterilization procedures and contraception, including some drugs that have caused abortions, have provided a particular burden for Catholics and others with pro-life religious and moral convictions. Non-compliance with the mandate is punished by severe fines.

The owners of Mersino Management Company are both Catholics. Their corporate offices all display a document that reads: “Honor God in all we do by serving our customers and employees with honesty and integrity.”

Pro-life groups are also challenging the mandate. Attorneys representing the non-profit March for Life, which runs the annual national pro-life march in Washington, D.C., filed a legal challenge against the mandate on July 8. They said the organization’s sincere moral beliefs bar it from cooperation in providing drugs that can cause abortion through its insurance programs.

The organization is being represented by attorneys from the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.

“Pro-life organizations must be free to operate according to the beliefs they espouse,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom. “The government should not be allowed to force them to pay for insurance coverage that covers drugs that can cause an abortion — the very tragedy March for Life and other pro-life groups oppose.”

The Supreme Court’s June 30 decision ruled that Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Services and other closely-held for-profit corporations are protected against the mandate by the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Many non-profit organizations, including Catholic dioceses, hospitals, universities, and charitable organizations, have filed legal challenges against the federal mandate. The outcome of those lawsuits is still pending.

—Catholic News Agency


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

February 2016
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February 14, 2016

  • Sunday, February 14

    Mother Cabrini Library and Chapel Open House, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., 3801 Scott Road, Burbank. The event is hosted by the Los Angeles Region.

     

    Italian Catholic Club of SCV Valentine's Day Dinner Dance, 7 p.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Parish Hall), 23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall. Come enjoy a delicious gourmet buffet dinner and dance the night away to the music of Linda Pippin. Wear your favorite red dress, shirt and/or tie. All adults (single or married) are welcome. Tickets are $35 each (prepaid), or $45 at the door. Please call Anna Riggs at (661) 645-7877 to reserve your spot by Feb. 10.

     

    Stations of the Cross, 2 p.m. Calvary Cemetery, 4201 Whittier Boulevard, East Los Angeles. Continuing each Sunday of Lent. For more info, please call Calvary Cemetery: 323-261-3106.

     

    Year of Mercy Mass and Pilgrimage in The Shrine of St. John Paul II, 3 p.m., Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church, 3424 W. Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles.  Mass celebrated in English with Fr. John Paul Gonzalez of Christ the King Church.  Mass will be followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confession, with Divine Mercy Chaplet.  The closing prayer will be a blessing and veneration of the 1st class relic of St. John Paul II.  

    South Bay Catholic Co-ed Adult Softball League Pre-Season Practice Games, McMaster Park, 3624 Artesia Blvd., Torrance.  Must RSVP to Fred Lawler (League Commissioner) at (310) 504-0271 or fredlawler@hotmail.com.

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