DENVER—A U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction last week to a Colorado businessman challenging Obamacare's contraceptive mandate in court. The owner of six senior care businesses, Steve Briscoe believes protecting unborn babies is part of his larger mission to value all life, both young and old. While he waits for his case to wind through the courts, Briscoe will not face fines for not offering contraceptives under his employee health insurance plan.
Last winter, Briscoe discovered Obamacare required him to add contraceptive coverage for his more than 200 employees. The coverage includes drugs or devices that may cause early abortions, including so-called "emergency contraceptives" Plan B and Ella.
Briscoe said the decision to fight the mandate was easy: “I believe every human life is of value. I have a firm belief based in Christianity that we are created by God, for God. I don’t want to be a part of a process that eliminates a human being from being of service to Him.”
As a child and teenager, Briscoe worked odd jobs at a nursing home and volunteered with various Christian groups to visit seniors around the holidays. In college, he majored in business administration and did a nine-month internship at a nursing home, where he learned to value seniors’ wisdom and life experiences. Briscoe decided he wanted spend his life helping them “find value in their lives during their later years.” Today he owns several companies that operate senior independent living residences, assisted living centers, and skilled nursing facilities, as well as businesses that manage them.
But Briscoe’s 36 years in the field are on the line. He briefed his employees about the lawsuit, and not all agreed with his decision. But he said they understand this issue is a priority to him. It falls in line with his call to help people: The man fighting for honorable care for people at the end of their lives can't help but defend lives that are just beginning.
Briscoe also views the fight as one for religious freedom in America: “We were a people who recognized God in heaven and functioned under Him. [Today] we do well because of [our] devotion to a Constitution that recognizes our foundation. ”
The Justice Department has 45 days to appeal the preliminary injunction order entered in Briscoe’s favor, said his attorney Michael J. Norton, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. Judge Wiley Daniel stayed further proceedings in the Briscoe case until at least Oct. 1, when the Solicitor General is expected to decide whether or not to petition the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Hobby Lobby's challenge to the contraceptive mandate.
Briscoe is just one of 200 business owners, religious companies, social service organizations, and colleges suing the federal government over the contraceptive mandate. According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, one of the legal groups representing several cases, 29 of the 32 for-profit organizations that have filed suit against the government secured temporary relief from fines. The legal challenges—67 in all—are headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, with craft chain Hobby Lobby likely to be the first plaintiff to present its case.