When the officers of Grote Industries sat down to discuss a possible legal challenge to the contraceptive mandate in the national health care law, the vote was immediate and unanimous. “We decided that it was definitely against our beliefs,” says chairman and CEO William Grote III.
The company filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in southern Indiana seeking to block implementation of that provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
Based in Madison, Ind., Grote Industries is a global leader in the manufacture of vehicle lighting and safety systems. As Roman-Catholic Christians, its owners strive to operate the business in accord with Catholic social and moral teachings. Among them is the belief that human life is sacred from conception and that using artificial birth control is wrong.
For that reason, the self-insured health plan offered by Grote Industries to its employees has never before covered abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives or sterilization.
As of Jan. 1, the company had no choice in the matter. It either covers such services or faces steep daily fines imposed by the federal government. “The penalty is absolutely onerous,” Grote says. “It would easily destroy the company should we not do it.”
The Affordable Care Act has generated many lawsuits since its passage but few of its provisions have been as controversial as the one forcing employers to subsidize medical services to which they object on moral grounds.
The law guarantees most workers co-pay free access to preventive heath care. Federal rules say this includes “contraceptive methods and sterilization methods” approved by the Food and Drug Administration such as Plan B and “ella,” known as the “morning after” and “week after” pills because they can prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterus. Related counseling and education are also covered.
Employers who fail to finance these things can be fined $100 per employee per day. With 1,150 employees worldwide, Grote Industries could be looking at $4 million a year.
The Grote complaint is one of more than 40 lawsuits filed around the country by Catholic and evangelical plaintiffs including hospitals, universities and for-profit businesses.
Religious non-profits are exempt from the mandate until Aug. 1 while the Obama administration considers changes to address their objections. For-profit businesses like Grote were required to comply by August 2012 or whenever their updated health plans took effect, in most cases Jan. 1.
The underlying issue — whether the mandate violates religious freedom and free speech concerns of private employers — has yet to be addressed by the Supreme Court. Efforts to block the law’s enforcement pending resolution of the legal challenges have been mostly unsuccessful.
On Dec. 26, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to stop the Department of Health and Human Services from enforcing the mandate against Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain with 13,000 employees. The next day, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker denied a similar motion from Grote Industries, finding that “the burden the mandate imposes on plaintiffs here is likely too remote and attenuated to be considered substantial.” Hobby Lobby has announced it will defy the law while Grote intends to comply.
The contraceptive mandate was recently dubbed by Heritage Foundation the “worst regulation” issued by the feds in 2012 because of its lack of exemptions for health plan providers with religious objections.
It is an example, one Heritage scholar said, “of the coercive ‘incentives’ built into Obamacare, which has concentrated broad powers in the hands of the federal government — a drastic and dangerous experiment.”
“This gross government overreach even extends to commandeering religious employers into directly paying for drugs and services that violate their faith despite conscientious objections. In the Administration’s view, business owners must abandon their religious and moral convictions as a condition of participating in commerce.”
Grote Industries has been in operation for over 100 years, and Bill Grote says he can’t think of a comparable example of government meddling.
“This is up close and personal,” he says. “These are our beliefs.”
Andrea Neal is adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. Contact her at email@example.com.
Editorial: Our children in poverty
An important gauge for measuring the long-term prospects of a community is the well-being of its children. For all the effort and progress Vigo County has made in rebuilding the economy and improving its quality of life, chronic problems with the welfare of its children still exist.
- Readers' Forum: March 14, 2014
RONN MOTT: Ukraine 2
The situation in the Ukraine should let us know plainly, and openly, the old saying about a leopard never changing its spots is true. Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer, grew up a communist and, from all appearances, still believes like a communist.
EDITORIAL: Meth battle never ends
It’s been more than a decade since local police officials declared methamphetamine as “public enemy No. 1.”
READERS' FORUM: March 13, 2014
• Celebrating the Girl Scouts
• Challenging the politicians
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts on a cool day (Part III)
• Resolving to praise ISU
• Right down our alley
- READERS' FORUM: March 12, 2014
RONN MOTT: SAWS
A few days ago we talked to John Anderson of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church. He’s the coordinator for a mission of the church that builds ramps and stairs for those who are physically handicapped in Putnam County.
EDITORIAL: Thinking warm thoughts (Part II of III)
• Renewing a local library commitment
LIZ CIANCONE: We’re not only ones ready for springtime
During the most recent of our numerous descents into polar temperatures, I was astounded to see a dozen or more robins up to their ankles in snow. They were fluffed out to about twice their normal size. I suppose that was an effort to provide a bit of feathered insulation against the cold.
READERS' FORUM: March 11, 2014
• Meat-free path to the fountain of youth
• Faulty point?
EDITORIAL: Warm thoughts on cool days (Part I of III)
• Something good’s brewing
• Y we can’t take it for granted
FLASHPOINT: Where Congress falls short, and where it doesn’t
At a public gathering the other day, someone asked me how I’d sum up my views on Congress. It was a good question because it forced me to step back from worrying about the current politics of Capitol Hill and take a longer view.
READERS' FORUM: March 10, 2014
• Our government’s heart and soul
• A plea for more give and take
MARK BENNETT: New public-access point begins quest to create more spots to experience river
Fairness holds no power over the Wabash River.
EDITORIAL: Ads on the sides of school buses? What have we come to?
Ads on the sides of school buses do not constitute a sign of the apocalypse. Western civilization will survive.
Flashpoint: President should stop Medicare Advantage cuts
Virtually all elected officials — Republicans and Democrats — share the goal of increasing access to affordable health insurance and helping families receive the best coverage to meet their specific needs.
Readers’ Forum: March 9, 2014
Mardi Gras great event for Swope
EPA regs will cause energy bills to soar
Please pray for Ukraine innocents
Sinful thinking on road to hell
Liberty — or licentiousness
People will not always agree
Botched chance at leadership
RONN MOTT: Radio now a long lost love
I fell in love with radio when I was 16, just a few short weeks before my 17th birthday. The man who did the deed and hired me was Adlai Ferguson.
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news
Welcome to girls teams, fans
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
EDITORIAL: What do Sony cutbacks mean?
It is easy to understand why shivers run down local people’s spines whenever rumors hit the streets about Sony DADC’s plant on Terre Haute’s east side. With more than 1,400 people currently employed in Sony’s production and distribution facilities, the community has grown somewhat dependent on the economic stability Sony provides.
- Readers’ Forum: March 7, 2014
RONN MOTT: Knicks
The big noise in the NBA is whether Carmelo Anthony will stay with the New York Knicks or go elsewhere.
If my memory serves, and it doesn’t always, Carmelo left the Denver Nuggets, the team that drafted him, to play in the bright lights of the Big Apple. It was loudly proclaimed at the time that Carmelo wanted to play for a championship team. The Knicks’ ownership bought a bunch of players and spent a whole bunch of money to aid Carmelo in helping the Knicks to get to a championship.
EDITORIAL: More ill will against gays
If you’re a feral cat wandering freely through a trailer park in Indiana, the General Assembly has taken action to make your life better.
Readers’ Forum: March 6, 2014
Utilities do need tighter regulation
Great work by TV sports staff
Editorial: A good place for persistence
The topic of Gov. Mike Pence’s effectiveness as the state’s top governmental leader during this year’s General Assembly will be hashed and rehashed after the session closes down in the next couple of weeks. At best, the first-term governor will get mixed marks.
- Readers’ Forum: March 5, 2014
RONN MOTT: Abraham Lincoln and George Washington
I remember when by edict the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were lumped into a single celebration called “Presidents Day.” I thought it was stupid then, and I still do.
LIZ CIANCONE: Antiques show better than any modern programs
I’m not a big fan of television.
Readers’ Forum: March 4, 2014
Lunatic ravings of the far right
Let IRS take the bullying pledge
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- Editorial: Our children in poverty