An entrepreneur filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government says the same Catholic faith that compels him to offer good wages and excellent health care plans prohibits him from abiding by the federal contraception mandate.
“I believe strongly in the whole social justice aspect of the Church,” said John Kennedy, president and CEO of Autocam and Autocam Medical, two Michigan based manufacturing companies.
However, looking at the Affordable Care Act and its contraception mandate, he told EWTN News, “social justice was not done.”
On Oct. 8, Kennedy and his family members, who own a controlling interest in both companies, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the contraception mandate issued under the health care reform law. The mandate requires employers to provide health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs.
Kennedy believes the mandate violates both the U.S. Constitution and federal law by forcing him to violate his religious beliefs. He is asking the court for an injunction protecting Autocam from the mandate.
The lawsuit observed that the Kennedys are Catholic, and the teachings of their faith on the dignity of human life and the nature of human sexuality prohibit cooperation in the provision of contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs.
In addition, it recognized that their religious convictions “also prevent them from adopting the spurious position that their religious beliefs do not apply when they enter the world of work.”
“Quite the contrary, Plaintiffs believe that they are called to live out the teachings of Christ in their daily activity and witness to the truth of the Gospel by treating others in a manner that reflects their commitment to human dignity,” it said.
“Plaintiffs Autocam and Autocam Medical are for-profit corporations that merely represent the business form through which the individual Plaintiffs endeavor to live their vocation as Christians in the world,” it explained.
It is “precisely because Plaintiffs seek to live their Christian vocation as individuals who do not check their religious beliefs at the door of the workplace” that they have “gone above and beyond the minimal requirements of the market in their treatment of their employees,” the lawsuit said.
Motivated by their religious beliefs, the owners of Autocam offer an exceptional healthcare plan, which 91 percent of employees choose to utilize. Under the plan, employees pay no premiums, while Autocam contributes $1,500 toward their deductible and covers 100 percent of preventive care costs for employees and their families.
In order to comply with their religious convictions, the Kennedys “specifically designed a health insurance plan to exclude contraception, including abortifacient contraception, sterilization, and counseling relating to the same,” the lawsuit noted.
The companies are self-insured and their new plan year begins on Jan. 1, 2013. At that point, if they choose to abide by their conscience and offer health insurance that excludes the objectionable coverage, they will be forced to pay “ruinous fines” of $24 million a year.
As a for-profit company, Autocam and its owners have not been offered any conscience protections under the mandate.
Kennedy explained that this forces him to choose between violating his faith, paying penalties so stiff they could put him out of business or dropping health coverage for his employees.
He believes that the mandate fails to respect the foundational American principle of religious liberty and will not effectively help the uninsured because it offers a financial incentive for employers to drop their health care coverage.
He also questioned the priorities of the mandate, observing that while it focuses on contraception and early abortion drugs, it does not similarly require that employers offer free insulin or other potentially lifesaving drugs.
Kennedy said that the mandate undermines his ability as an American to run a business according to his religious principles, which drive him to treat his employers “fairly” by offering “great wages and benefits” to the laborers who help make his business successful.
“That’s what I learned as I was growing up as a Catholic,” he said.