10/28/2013 9:17:00 AM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - The Roman Catholic owner of a natural foods company must offer employees contraceptive services as required by the new health care reform law, the 6th Circuit ruled.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers that do not comply with the mandate to provide contraceptive services, and fail to meet the criteria for an exemption, face significant taxes.
Eden Foods is one such company that does not qualify for an exemption, though its Roman Catholic president, Michael Potter, personally objects to the "immoral and unnatural practices" involved in contraception, abortion and abortifacients.
They sued for an injunction in Detroit, claiming that noncompliance with the Obamacare mandate would leave them facing fines of at least $2,000 per employee per year for failing to comply with underBecause its president, Michael Potter, is Roman Catholic, however, they claimed that covering contraceptive costs would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Potter, a Roman Catholic, claimed that he opposes "contraception, abortion and abortifacients" because they "almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices."
A federal judge denied the sought-after injunction, and a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit affirmed Thursday.
"The Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate imposes duties and potential penalties on Eden Foods only, not upon Potter, despite his status as the sole shareholder of the corporation," Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey wrote for the panel. "By incorporating his business, Potter voluntarily forfeited his rights to bring individual actions for alleged corporate injuries in exchange for the liability and financial protections otherwise afforded him by utilization of the corporate form."
She added that "a secular, for-profit corporation" such as Eden Foods "cannot establish that it can exercise religion, and that Potter cannot establish his standing to challenge obligations placed only on the corporation, not upon him as an individual."
The 11-page decision relies on circuit precedent announced last month in the case of Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius