A U.S. government mandate that businesses offer employees coverage for contraception through health-care insurance was challenged in court as unconstitutional by a St. Louis businessman.
Frank O’Brien is a practicing Catholic who believes life begins at conception and ends with death, according to the complaint that he and O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC filed today in St. Louis.
“He cannot pay for and provide coverage for contraceptives, sterilization, abortion or related education and counseling without violating his religious beliefs,” O’Brien’s lawyers wrote in the complaint.
The contraception requirement is part of President Barack Obama’s 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, intended to create almost-universal health-care insurance coverage.
While the mandate initially called on religious institutions and secular employers to pay for the coverage, the president last month relieved religious groups of the responsibility by requiring their insurers to provide the coverage free of charge after encountering opposition to the rule.
O’Brien employs 87 people at his businesses, which mine clays and silicates, and manufacture products such as insulation and the clay used for baseball infields, according to the complaint and the corporate website.
The U.S. Justice Department didn’t immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment on the lawsuit.
The case is O’Brien v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 12-cv-476, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).
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