A federal court has ruled that a Michigan-based medical supply company does not have to provide contraception coverage in its employee health insurance plan because of faith-based objections.
The Jan. 5 ruling by Judge Robert Jonker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids said Autocam Medical does not have to comply with the contraceptive coverage requirement of the Affordable Care Act. The decision is a reversal of the judge's ruling three years ago.
The current decision is based on the Supreme Court's ruling last June in the Hobby Lobby case, which said that closely held companies cannot be forced to abide by the federal Health and Human Services' mandate that requires nearly all employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, elective sterilizations and contraceptives to their employees free of charge if the individual or families that own the businesses have religious objections to the mandate.
Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, which argued the case on Autocam's behalf in the lower and appellate courts, said in a statement that the ruling "sets another strong precedent for the free exercise of religious faith on the part of all American citizens."
"Coercing citizens to violate their conscientious religious beliefs makes a mockery of the very notion of religious freedom," he added.
John Kennedy, the Catholic CEO of Autocam, has long insisted that the government does not have the right to require his company to purchase insurance that goes against the owners' religious beliefs.
Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, Autocam's health insurance plan with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan had excluded contraception, sterilization, abortion, and abortion-inducing drugs, in keeping with its owners' religious beliefs. According to MLive.com, a Michigan news site, Autocam employs more than 21,000 people in 15 factories located in the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia.
This past summer, Kennedy sold Autocam Corporation, an auto supply company, to N.N., Inc., and became N.N.'s largest shareholder, according to MLive.com.
The Jan. 5 ruling also clears Autocam from any fines and penalties it may have accrued for not providing contraceptive coverage for its employees.