A federal court on Friday said a Bible publisher doesn’t have to offer health insurance coverage for contraceptives if it has moral objections, blocking the Obama administration from imposing its contraceptive care mandate on the business for now.
Judge Reggie B. Walton said the Obama administration’s contraceptive coverage mandate puts companies that companies such as Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers in an “untenable position” — either violate their beliefs, or face major penalties for failing to comply.
Tyndale House Publishers Inc., a Christian publishing company, said it objects to several types of contraceptives the Health and Human Services Department requires be covered.
After this summer’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the health law, the contraceptive mandate has become the chief legal battleground.
The administration argued that allowing employers to be exempted from the contraceptive mandate would harm women’s health and could lead to a patchwork of company coverage.
But Judge Walton pointed to tens of millions of people who already belong to plans exempted from the new mandate.
As for the government’s interest in promoting women’s health, Judge Walton said the administration never presented evidence that the particular contraceptives that Tyndale objects to — intrauterine devices, or morning-after pills — are critical. Judge Walton said Tyndale does cover some contraceptives, and without evidence that morning-after pills or IUDs are critical, he would side with the publisher.
Tyndale, one of the world’s largest privately-held Christian publishing houses, provides its own insurance, which sets it aside from another case where a court ruled a company wasn’t able to avoid the mandate because it paid an outside insurer, which then provided the services. In the case of Tyndale, it pays directly for the services.