Earlier this week, Conestoga Wood Specialties and its owners, the Hahn family, of Lancaster County, Pa., filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit after a federal court denied the Mennonite family business their request for an injunction against an Obamacare employee healthcare provision. The Hahns sought protect the family's ability to run their business according to their religious beliefs and personal consciences.
The Conestoga Wood case, like the Hobby Lobby case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, involves a request on behalf of a family business and its owners for protection against a federal government mandate to include contraception in their employee healthcare plan. Contraception by federal definition includes abortion pills that can result in the death of a human embryo.
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius was originally filed in District Court on December 7, 2012. It was followed by a temporary 14-day injunction issued on Dec. 28, and expired when the preliminary injunction motion was denied last Friday.
The Hahns are religiously opposed to abortion, and wish to be able to continue to run their business according to their religious conscience. They want to continue offering an employee health plan, but without a provision they believe to be immoral.
A First Amendment right?
"No one should be forced to violate their conscience and religious beliefs in the way they run their business," says Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Independence Law Center in Harrisburg, Pa. "The free exercise of religion, guaranteed in the First Amendment, is not something confined to the four walls of a church. Our Constitution guarantees to all the freedom to live out our faith according to our conscience in all areas of life."
"As government grows and pervades every detail of life, we risk what happened in this case: the government telling citizens that they need to subsidize something as controversial as drugs and devices that can result in the death of a new human life," adds Charles Proctor, III, lead counsel in the case. "Government must know that this creates a moral dilemma for millions of religious employers like the Hahn family. Government should not be in the business of micromanaging our lives in this way."
The Independence Law Center is a non-profit law center in Pennsylvania focused on protecting religious liberty.