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October 25, 2012 Print

Family Research Council May Challenge HHS Contraceptive Mandate

by Bethany Monk

The Texas-based legal firm Liberty Institute sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking officials to clarify whether the Family Research Council (FRC) must offer contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs under its employee health care plan.

FRC — a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C. non-profit organization dedicated to advancing faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview — is one of many similar groups nationwide that falls into a gray area under the HHS rule, issued earlier this year. The only groups totally exempt from it are churches; ministries that serve a variety of people have been given only until August 2013 to find a way to comply, compared with the secular businesses that were forced to begin complying this year.

So far, 37 lawsuits from religious organizations, as well as secular businesses owned by people of faith, have filed federal lawsuits against the Obama administration, saying the mandate violates their First Amendment rights.

“We certainly hope the Secretary will read the statute broadly and understand that organizations like FRC, which is a Christian 501c(3) religious nonprofit corporation, ought to be exempt from this draconian requirement,” said Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Michael Johnson.

If the Obama administration does not respond by Nov. 5, another lawsuit could soon be added to the growing count.

“If FRC is forced to comply with this unconscionable mandate, we will be happy to file an immediate challenge on its behalf,” Johnson said.

FRC President Tony Perkins said the organization will not comply with a mandate that forces it to violate the statement of faith that every job applicant there is required to sign.

“We are committed to repealing and replacing President Obama’s unjust health care law, which used taxpayer dollars for abortion, further burdens American families, raises taxes and restricts religious liberty,” Perkins said.

So far, only one plaintiff has won relief from the mandate: The Newland family of Denver, Catholics who own a secular heating and air-conditioning manufacturing company. A federal court in Colorado said the family does not have to comply with the rule while its case proceeds.

Learn more about Liberty Institute.

Learn more about current lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate.