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

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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner @gmail.com or Jim LoCoco at flavialococ0@msn.com.

     

     

    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to www.boscotech.edu/events or www.yurak.eventbrite.com; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 

     

    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.

     

    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit lentenfootprints.yolasite.com or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or mromero@ccharities.org.

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