Judge sides with company on contraceptive coverage

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday temporarily prevented the Obama administration from forcing a Christian publishing company to provide its employees with certain contraceptives under the new health care law.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted a preliminary injunction sought by Tyndale House Publishers, which doesn’t want to provide employees with contraceptives that it equates with abortion.

At issue are contraceptives such as Plan B and IUDs. If a woman already is pregnant, the Plan B pill has no effect. It prevents ovulation or fertilization of an egg, and according to the medical definition, pregnancy doesn’t begin until a fertilized egg implants itself into the wall of the uterus. The Plan B pill may also be able to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. IUDs mainly work by blocking sperm but may also have the same uterus effect. To Tyndale, these methods are not morally different than abortion.

Tyndale, based in Carol Stream, Ill., says it provides its 260 employees with coverage for some contraceptives. The company and its president and CEO, Mark D. Taylor, filed the lawsuit against the Health and Human Services Department last month.

“The contraceptive coverage mandate affirmatively compels the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs in order to comply with the law and avoid the sanctions that would be imposed for their noncompliance,” wrote Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush. He said that if the company doesn’t comply with the mandate, it is subject to government fines and lawsuits.

Walton acknowledged that the government has broad, compelling interests in promoting public health and ensuring that women have equal access to health care, but he said the question “is whether the government has shown that the application of the contraceptive coverage mandate to the plaintiffs furthers those compelling interests,” underlying “to the plaintiffs” in the text. Nothing in Walton’s order applied to anyone other than Tyndale.

Walton said that the government hasn’t offered any proof that mandatory insurance for the specific types of contraceptives that Tyndale objects to furthers the government’s compelling interests.

Matthew S. Bowman, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, which brought the suit on behalf of Tyndale, said in an email that Bible publishers “should be free to do business according to the book that they publish.”

He added: “The Obama administration is not entitled to disregard religious freedom.”

The Health and Human Service Department declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

———

Follow Fred Frommer on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ffrommer

More in Local News

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Small fire breaks out at haunted house in Everett

Plastic that was supposed to be noncombustable was sitting next to a hot lightbulb.

Rules of the road for ‘extra-fast pedestrians’ — skateboarders

State traffic law defines them as pedestrians, and yet they are often in the middle of the street.

Distress beacon leads rescuers to Pacific Crest Trail hikers

Two men in their 20s had encountered snow and waited two nights for a helicopter rescue.

City of Everett to give $400K to a nonprofit housing project

The city expects to enter a contract with HopeWorks, an affiliate of Housing Hope.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Some damage undone: Thousands of heroin needles removed

Hand Up Project volunteers cleaned up a patch of woods that some of them had occupied near Everett.

Talk of changes at Marysville schools has parents wary

The district has lost more than 1,000 students over the past 10 years.

Most Read