Another Affordable Care Act Contraception Lawsuit Filed in Michigan

Right to Life of Michigan has filed a federal lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, adding to a pile of recent court cases challenging whether corporations can refuse to provide employees contraception coverage in employer-sponsored health insurance plans on moral grounds.

The complaint, filed Monday by attorney Michael Rizik Jr. in the U.S. District Court of Grand Rapids, alleges that the contraception mandate violates Right to Life’s First Amendment religious and speech freedoms.

Right to Life considers emergency contraception like Plan B and ella to be “abortifacients.” Since Right to Life’s mission is to advocate against abortion, the complaint alleges, paying for insurance that covers emergency contraception would violate “deeply held religious beliefs” and Right to Life’s “sole reason for existence as an organization.”

Emergency contraception does not cause abortions, but what matters legally is Right to Life members’ sincerely held belief that it does.

Right to Life Michigan is a nonprofit, non-sectarian corporation. Most of its board members and employees are Catholic or evangelical Christian, but since it is not a religiously affiliated employer, its complaint is similar to those of other secular corporations seeking an exemption from the mandate.

The U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear three such cases, including another Michigan suit brought by the Autocam Corp., in which the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Autocam.

At issue is whether corporations have religious freedoms, and whether the religious freedoms of corporate executives trump those of their employees on health-care issues.

Right to Life Michigan is also behind an initiative to ban private insurance companies in Michigan from covering abortion, which, despite being unpopular, could still pass with a simple legislative majority if enough signatures are collected.

CORRECTION: A version of this article incorrectly noted that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the Autocam case. In fact, it ruled against Autocam Corp. in that case.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • edgery

    Ok, I’m confused. The way I read this is that RtL is suing because they consider the mandate to violate their religious belief against abortions (I don’t agree with this interpretation of Christian principles but whatever). They *incorrectly* believe that emergency contraceptives cause abortions *and* base that incorrect understanding of scientific fact on their religion. So, are they arguing that their religion demands that they ignore science? Did they provide a biblical cite on that? Because I can’t find that one in my version.

    • fiona64

      “I don’t know the verse, but I know it’s in there somewhere.” /typical anti-choice response when confronted with stuff like this.

      Alternately? “I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere in Jeremiah.”

      • CJ99

        They just won’t admit its in the tooth fairies autobiography volume 87 page 2832.

    • xuinkrbin

      The Supreme Court has long held the belief in question need not be (1) accurate nor (2) part of a documented/structured system of belief or organized religion in order to qualify as an exercise of religion. For purposes of Religious Freedom Restoration Act, an articulated and sincerely held belief is sufficient to qualify.

      • cjvg

        My sincerely held religious belief is that it is a grave sin to create and birth children who are not wanted!

        I would like my sincerely held religious belief on the fact that every life MUST be created and birthed into a wanted environment, honored and respected by all my employees.
        Therefore I am justified in mandating contraception as well as abortions for all my employees who become pregnant without the specific intent to do so!!!!

        • JamieHaman

          Stealing this. All three paragraphs. Will give credit when posting. Thank you.

          • cjvg

            I’m perfectly fine with you using it as needed.
            Don’t worry about credit, I’m not a writer and as such have no need to protect my personal musings.

      • HeilMary1

        Even if that cult belief mandates criminal Munchausen by Proxy medical malpractice, deadly womb trafficking, matricide, and priest pedophilia??

      • L-dan

        The sincerely held beliefs of Christian Scientists and other cults who believe they can just pray away terminal diseases have not stopped parents from being convicted of neglect, murder, manslaughter, etc. when those beliefs have endangered or killed their children. We allow people to harm themselves or opt out of certain things due to sincerely held beliefs, but usually draw the line when it begins to harm others.

        Refusing to follow laws that are setting a baseline for health care is about on par with refusing to follow basic OSHA regulations because they interfere with one’s religious practice. Or, for that matter, requiring your employees to join you in religious observance.

        It’s really a horrible precedent to set. There’s no reason to even have workplace laws if a sincerely held religious belief trumps any of them. I expect Libertarianism to be recoded as a religion before long if that takes hold.