Car dealer withdraws request to stop morning-after pill coverage
CHARLESTON, W.Va. --South Charleston car dealer Joe Holland withdrew Monday his request asking a federal judge to stop a mandate requiring employer-provided insurance plans to cover morning-after pills.
Still, one of his attorneys said he plans to file an amended complaint and would still seek an injunction.
A hearing scheduled for Tuesday in front of U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston was canceled.
Holland's lawsuit contends that by forcing the dealership to include in its group health insurance coverage "drugs that induce abortion ... and contraceptive counseling," the law deprives the company of their right to practice their Christian religious beliefs.
The Affordable Care Act requires new insurance plans to cover access to FDA-approved contraceptives, including Plan B and "ella," known as morning-after pills.
Holland believes that the morning-after pills and anything that stops the growth of a human embryo after the point of conception is abortion.
Joe Holland Chevrolet, a family-owned car dealership with more than 150 employees, believed it could face fines of more than $15,000 a day if Holland's request for relief hadn't been granted by July 1, according to a release from the Liberty Institute and the Family Policy Council.
Those two organizations, along with attorneys from Robinson & McElwee PLLC, filed the lawsuit June 24 in U.S. District Court on behalf of Holland and the dealership, both of whom are named as plaintiffs.
However, Holland learned soon after filing the lawsuit that the insurance he provides his employees had already been offering the morning-after pills.
"Joey made the reasonable assumption that when you get health insurance you get to keep people healthy and make people well, not destroy a life," said Jeremiah Dys, attorney for the Family Policy Council.
What Holland learned, Dys said, was that all insurance carriers offer the pills.
Holland plans to file an amended complaint, according to Dys, and request a permanent injunction.
"This puts Joe in a quandary. At any given moment someone could request coverage that he has an objection to funding. It's a moral quandary he doesn't want to be in," Dys said. "No employer can avoid it unless the court steps in."
Holland is the first person in the state to file such a lawsuit, but his joins 61 other cases and more than 200 other plaintiffs nationwide who contend that the HHS mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and freedom of religion under the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.