Continued from page 2

Suddenly, he said, they are required to play a direct role in providing contraceptive drugs, devices or procedures to their employees.

“This is the line our faith requires us to respect, and that is what we’re trying to do here,” he said. “It’s a terrible predicament to be forced into by your country.”

The ACLU’s Ms. Amiri said such a stance provides a “false choice.”

“Providing a comprehensive health plan to his employees doesn’t burden his religion beliefs any more than paying salaries, which employees may use to obtain care or services that may be contrary to the owner’s religious beliefs,” she said.

Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican who said Mr. Kennedy is a respected businessman in his district, said the calculus would be different if publicly traded corporations were under the microscope in this debate.

But self-insured Autocam is a family-run business in the strictest sense. Its shareholders consist of Mr. Kennedy and his immediate family, with daughter Margaret and her three brothers — ages 21, 26 and 28 — each owning a stake in the company.

Autocam employees seem to like their plan, and American businesses should be able to agree on compensation packages without governmental interference, according to Mr. Huizenga.

“This isn’t France It’s called the free market,” he said, adding, “John’s been swimming upstream on this.”