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Birth control coverage up for federal appeal


May 24. 2013 12:01AM
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DENVER — In the most prominent challenge of its kind, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. is asking a federal appeals court Thursday for an exemption from part of the federal health care law that requires it to offer employees health coverage that includes access to the morning-after pill.


The Oklahoma City-based arts-and-crafts chain argues that businesses — not only the currently exempted religious groups — should be allowed to seek exception from that part of the health law if it violates their religious beliefs.


“They ought to be able — just like a church, just like a charity — to have the right to opt out of a provision that infringes on their religious beliefs,” said Kyle Duncan, who will argue before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Green family, the founders of Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and a sister company, Christian booksellers Mardel Inc.


The Greens contend that emergency contraception is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. They also object to providing coverage for certain kinds of intrauterine devices.


Lower courts have rejected Hobby Lobby’s claim, saying that for-profit businesses aren’t covered by an exemption added to the law for religious organizations. That exemption applies to churches themselves, but not to affiliated nonprofit corporations, such as hospitals, that do not rely primarily on members of the faith as employees.




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