Colorado District Court Blocks Contraception Mandate for Secular, For-Profit Nursing Home Business


For-profit secular corporations seeking to avoid compliance with federal health-care regulations got another win in court, this time in Colorado, as a federal district court granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception benefit with respect to four contraceptive methods.

The plaintiffs—Continuum Health Partnerships; Continuum Health Management, LLC; Mountain States Health Properties, LLC; and the evangelical Christian owner of the related companies, Stephen W. Briscoe—manage and operate senior-care assisted living centers and skilled nursing facilities. The plaintiffs offer a self-insurance plan to their over 200 employees and claim to have religious objections to contraceptive methods they believe operate as abortifacients. Specifically, they object to coverage for four FDA-approved contraceptive methods: “(1) Ella; (2) Plan B, Plan B One-Step, and Next Choice (Levonorgestrel); (3) the Copper IUD; and, (4) the IUD with Progestin.”

Last February, the district court refused to grant a temporary restraining order in the case, concluding the plaintiffs had not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claims. However, subsequent to the court’s earlier ruling denying an injunction to the plaintiffs, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, “en banc” (the entire court), decided the Hobby Lobby case, holding that corporations have free exercise rights and that the contraceptive coverage mandate substantially burdened those rights without a compelling governmental interest. Relying on this holding, the district court here granted the renewed motion for an injunction.

Opponents to the contraception benefit filed over 70 federal lawsuits challenging the rule. To date, over 40 of those legal challenges have been brought by secular, for-profit businesses, including three new cases filed in the district court for the District of Columbia. The D.C. Court of Appeals is widely believed to be the second most powerful court in the country, behind the U.S. Supreme Court, and often hears cases that wind up before the high court.

The chances of the Supreme Court taking up the issue of whether or not secular, for-profit businesses have religious rights is all but given. Currently, there’s a split in the circuit courts between the Third Circuit and the Tenth Circuit “en banc” decision in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius. The courts differ on the question of whether a for-profit company can exercise religious beliefs with the Third Circuit holding that such companies cannot, while the Tenth Circuit in Hobby Lobby said they can.

The federal government must decide by September 25 whether to seek an appeal in Hobby Lobby. The lawyers for Conestoga Wood Specialities Corporation, the party to the conflicting decision from the Third Circuit, said they intend to seek an appeal in the Supreme Court and have until November 12 to do so. If both cases are appealed, the Supreme Court will decide which case, if any, to take. The Supreme Court could also decide to take both cases.

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  • fiona64

    I wonder when one of these companies is going to object on religious grounds to policies covering Viagra and Cialis …

    • HeilMary1

      The male plaintiffs need ED drugs to perform holy adultery and sex tourism in the Philippines! And these hypocrites are also committing unlicensed kitchen abortions when they serve abortifacient coffee to female employees!

      • xuinkrbin

        Easy, now. We All want to see increased contraception access. We don’t need to go around making such defamatory accusations without proof.

    • xuinkrbin

      Except Viagra and Cialis are not the Male version of contraception; You are thinking of condoms, which no health insurance plan covers to My knowledge. So, the comparison is false. Likewise, since Viagra and Cialis are treatments for age related hormone issues, the Female variant would be hormone replacement therapy, which is covered by many, if not most, prescription plans, making the comparison false in two respects.

      • fiona64

        No, I am not thinking of condoms … I was thinking of exactly what I cited.

        Viagra and Cialis are *not* “treatments for age related hormone issues.” They are cardiac medications for which the off-label use of causing erections was discovered.

        So, actually, in your effort to try to make me look too stupid to know the difference between a condom and medication that is sold to men solely for the purpose of giving them a woody, you’ve actually managed to make yourself look pretty uninformed.

        Congratulations!

  • xuinkrbin

    Actually, if the Objectors succeed all the way to that point, I think it would give Us a great excuse to say, “Okay, We have to implement a buy-in for Medicare,” in transition to a single-Payer system. Works for Me.