A federal appeals court issued an injunction on Wednesday that temporarily blocks President Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services from implementing Obamacare’s contraception mandate.
The mandate requires employers to provide their employees with health care plans that include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
Missouri business owner Frank O’Brien, who employs 87 people at O’Brien Industrial Holdings, alleged in the lawsuit that led to the injunction that the mandate unconstitutionally infringes on his religious beliefs.
On its website, the company says its mission is “to make our labor a pleasing offering to the Lord while enriching our families and society.” O’Brien is a Catholic. (RELATED: College files lawsuit against contraceptive mandate)
The order by the three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prohibits HHS from forcing O’Brien to comply with the mandate, until the court issues a substantive ruling on the matter. The injunction order is not a final determination on the merits of O’Brien’s case or the constitutionality of the mandate.
A federal district court judge in October dismissed O’Brien’s claim at the request of the Obama administration. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which is representing O’Brien, then appealed the ruling on his behalf to the 8th Circuit.
“By granting our motion, the appeals court blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate and clears the way for our lawsuit to continue – a significant victory for our client,” ACLJ senior counsel Francis Manion said in a statement. “The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government. We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O’Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government. We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client.”
ACLJ is leading two other direct challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate.