Meet the 18 For-Profit Companies Fighting Obamacare's Contraception Coverage


When conservative blowhards argue that women should pay for their own damn contraception, they really mean women should pay for their own sluttish decisions; religious right talking heads never tire of asking why employers should subsidize sinful lifestyles. But here’s the real question: why should women bear the cost of their employers’ noxious moral beliefs?

Here are the 18 for-profit companies that are challenging Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage provision on the basis of their precious religious freedom, yet expect the women who work for them to pay the costs of a creed they don’t support.

18 of the 48 lawsuits that have been filed in federal court challenging the contraceptive coverage benefit are led by for-profit companies and entrepreneurs, ranging from Hobby Lobby (Ye Holy Crafts) to Weingartz Supply Company (outdoor power equipment personally blessed by J.C. himself) to a dude who hasn’t even hired any employees to oppress yet.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, which is tracking the lawsuits, the cases brought by non-profits have been largely dismissed as “not being ripe” because non-profits with religious objections get a one year delay in implementing the benefit; basically, their anti-slut gripes can be worked out later.

But the cases brought by for-profits are moving quickly because most of them are already required to provide their employees with contraceptive coverage benefits, which is awesome for workers but distasteful for bosses who would prefer to limit their employees’ access to reproductive health. (Which apparently means they all give excellent maternity/parental benefits? Just checking!)

While a few rational courts have recognized that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the federal law the companies are using to challenge the benefit) “is not a means to force one’s religious practices upon others” — duh — eleven companies so far have received temporary relief so that they can breathe easy and keep imposing their religious beliefs on their employees as they pursue their claims in court. No rest for the weary (bigots), as they say.

Here’s a list of companies you — and your friends/family/enemies (you don’t want them to procreate!) — should stay far away from:

1. Tyndale House

An Illinois publishing company focusing on Christian books. The founder’s argument is that he shouldn’t have to provide his 260 employees with contraceptives he equates with abortion. Apparently, when you’re the boss, you get to make up science.

Status? The district court granted a preliminary injunction.

2. Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics

The produce processing and packing companies are Ohio-based but serve 23 states and employ about 400 people. “The government is requiring them to enter into a contract and to pay for things that they find morally objectionable, and they just want to be able to continue what they’ve been doing,” one of their lawyers argued. “What they’ve been doing” = excluding contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs from their company health insurance for the past decade. Some Freshway Foods have signs stating, “It’s not a choice, it’s a child,” in case their employees didn’t get the message.

Status? Complaint filed. In response to plaintiffs’ contention that their case is sufficiently related to the Tyndale case, the district court ordered plaintiffs to demonstrate as much by February 8th.

3. Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation

A Pennsylvania-based wood cabinet and specialty products manufacturer run by Mennonites who think some birth-control products such as Plan B are “sinful and immoral” and “an intrinsic evil and a sin against God.” The company employs 950 people who don’t all necessarily agree that they’re Satan incarnated.

Status? The court dismissed a motion for preliminary injunction, but the plaintiffs appealed to the Third Circuit in last month.

4. Weingartz Supply Company

A secular Michigan company that sells outdoor power equipment. Roman Catholic owner Daniel Weingartz has said that he “devised a health plan that, in keeping with his religious beliefs, excluded coverage of contraceptives” for his 170 employees. Aww, how thoughtful.

Status? The district court granted a preliminary injunction for plaintiff Daniel Weingartz and Weingartz Supply Company, but not Legatus, a non-profit organization comprising more than 4000 Catholic business owners and organizations that also got involved with the case. Defendants appealed to the Sixth Circuit in Jan. The government has filed a cross-appeal.

5. Autocam Corporation

A West-Michigan-based company that makes parts for transportation and medical equipment and employs 680 people across the U.S. Here’s a lil video the founder made about how his employees are “like family” which is why he wants to tell them how to live like an overbearing dad.

Status? The district court denied preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs appealed to the Sixth Circuit, which denied injunction and motion to reconsider.

6. Domino’s Farms

The Michigan-based property management company owned by Tom Monaghan, the same dude who founded Domino’s Pizza. (You can still order it, because he sold it in 1998.) 45 full-time and 44 part-time employees work there. In his lawsuit, Monaghan said contraception wasn’t health care but a “gravely immoral” practice. Oh, go fuck yourself and your overly saucy pizza.

Status? The district court granted a temporary restraining order. Court heard motion preliminary injunction on Jan 31st.

7. Infrastructure Alternatives, Inc.

A Michigan contractor in the fields of environmental dredging, contaminated sediment remediation, geotextile tube installation and water treatment operations. We can’t find any info on the case so [insert joke about tube tying here.]

Status? Complaint filed.

8. Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.

An Illinois-based full-service construction contractor that employs about 90 workers. The Kortes “are adherents of the Catholic faith” and “wish to conduct business in a manner that does not violate their religious faith,” according to the suit. Aw, poor wittle Kortes; they make prioritizing your own beliefs over dozens of people who work for you sound so polite.

Status? The district court denied preliminary injunction, but the plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which issued an order granting the emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal over the strong dissent of one judge.

9. Triune Health Group

A secular Illinois corporation that specializes in facilitating the re-entry of injured workers into the workforce. The “health” group (ha) employs 95 people. The founders say they embrace the belief embedded in Triune’s mission statement that each individual be “treated with the human dignity and respect that God intended” and that the contraceptive mandate imposes a “gravely oppressive burden” on their religious beliefs. Funnily enough, the company recently won an award for being “Chicago’s Best Workplace for Women.”

Status? The district court granted a preliminary injunction.

10. Grote Industries

An Indiana-based privately held manufacturer of vehicle safety systems. Because safety should always come first, except when it comes to sex. The company has 1,448 full-time employees. The court noted that “consistent with the Grote Family’s religious commitments, before January 1, 2013, the Grote Industries health-insurance plan did not cover abortifacient drugs, contraception, or sterilization.” So they should never start, right?

Status? The district court denied a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs appealed to the Seventh Circuit, which consolidated the case with Korte (#8) and granted Grote Industries a temporary injunction pending appeal, over the strong dissent of one judge. Tricky.

11. Tonn and Black Construction, LLC

An Indiana construction company. The suit hasn’t gotten any publicity.

Status? Awaiting responses to motion for PI, motion to dismiss, and motion to consolidate with Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

12. O’Brien Industrial Holdings

A Missouri company that processes ceramic materials and employs 87 people. The company website says, “Our conduct is guided by the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. We will not discriminate based on anyone’s personal belief system.” Mmk.

Status? After the district court granted motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs appealed to the Eighth Circuit. Last November, the Eighth Circuit issued a stay pending the appeal, over the dissent of one judge.

13. American Pulverizer Company

Owned by founders Paul and Henry Griesedieck who have controlling interest in four Missouri-based companies involved in the business of wholesale scrap metal recycling. The Griesediecks argued that “it would be sinful for us to pay for services that have a significant risk of causing the death of embryonic lives.” Their companies employ about 150 living people whose opinions are apparently less important than these hypothetical embryos.

Status? The district court granted a preliminary injunction in part because of the O’Brien stay precedent.

14. Annex Medical Inc.

This is a weird one: plantiffs Stuart Lind and Tom Janas are Minnesotan business owners, the former of whom owns and operates Annex Medical and Sacred Heart Medical, companies that design, manufacture, and sell medical devices and employ 16 full-time and 2 part-time workers. Janas is an entrepreneur who has owned several dairy businesses in the past and intends to purchase another in 2013. He currently operates Habile Holdings and Venture North Properties, companies that lease commercial properties but currently have no employees.

Yet, the men argued that they are devout Catholics who are “steadfastly committed to biblical principles and the teachings of the Catholic Church, including the belief that life involves the creative action of God, and is therefore sacred. Lind and Janas therefore believe that any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation is an evil forbidden by God.” Thanks for sharing!

Status? The district court denied preliminary injunction, but the plaintiffs appealed to the 8th Circuit in January and got an injunction pending appeal, relying on the O’Brien order.

15. Sharpe Holdings, Inc.

A Missouri corporation that is involved in the farming, dairy, creamery, and cheese-making industries and employs at least 100 people. Delicious! But the founders’ beliefs — that “the use of Plan B, Ella, and copper IUDs constitutes abortion on demand” — are not so tasty. (Or true. But they’re “beliefs,” so we have to respect them, because FREEDOM.)

Status? The district court granted a temporary restraining order that’s in effect until the court rules on further injunctive relief.

16. Sioux Chief MFG. Co, Inc.

A Missouri plumbing products company. Obamacare “illegally and unconstitutionally coerces Plaintiffs to violate their sincerely held Catholic beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties,” their lawyers argued. “The Mandate also forces Plaintiffs to fund government-dictated speech that is directly at odds with the religious ethics derived from their deeply held religious beliefs and the moral teachings of the Catholic Church that they strive to embody in their business.” Ooh, way to get intellectual about limiting women’s rights. Perhaps the founders should host a debate with their 370 employees?

Status? Complaint filed.

17. Hercules Industries, Inc.

A Colorado corporation that manufactures heating, ventilation, and air conditioning products and employs 303 staffers. From the lawsuit: “although Hercules is a for-profit, secular employer, the Newlands [founders] adhere to the Catholic denomination of the Christian faith. According to the Newlands, ‘they seek to run Hercules in a manner that reflects their sincerely held religious beliefs.’ Thus, for the past year and a half the Newlands have implemented within Hercules a program designed to build their corporate culture based on Catholic principles.” We guess only good Christians deserve air conditioning.

Status? The district court granted an injunction. The government has appealed to the Tenth Circuit.

18. Hobby Lobby

A national craft supply chain based in Oklahoma City that employs over 13,000 people across the country. Founder David Green is part of the “We feel that emergency contraception is abortion so please respect our nonsensical and scientifically inaccurate fantasies, thx!” camp. “Our family is now being forced to choose to between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families,” Green once argued. “We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs to comply with this mandate.” First person to needlepoint that argument on a pillow wins unlimited googly-eyes for life.

Status? The district court denied the preliminary injunction, but Hobby Lobby appealed to the Tenth Circuit, which denied separate injunctive relief but has not yet decided whether to grant the preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court for the separate relief but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Try and craft your way out of that, assholes. (Ugh, they are.)

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