Minnetonka company doesn't offer health care because Catholic owner opposes contraception

What would Jesus do? One small business owner believes he wouldn't offer his employees birth control. 
What would Jesus do? One small business owner believes he wouldn't offer his employees birth control. 

Minnetonka-based Annex Medical doesn't offer its 16 employees health care, despite the fact that owner Stuart Lind wants to. The reason? Lind's brand of Catholicism means he's morally opposed to contraception, so he'd rather not offer his employees any insurance at all than cover it.

SEE ALSO: Male birth control pill, Gamendazole, being developed at University of Minnesota

But if a court ruling goes his way, the path will be cleared for Lind to offer his employees health insurance soon. Yesterday, an attorney representing Lind argued in federal appeals court in St. Paul that Annex Medical should be except from the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.

The L.A. Times characterized the mandate thusly:

[A]ll health plans [must] provide "preventive services" for free. That category includes vaccines and such routine screenings as cholesterol checkups and mammograms. Starting [last] year, it also includes coverage of birth control pills, IUDs and other contraceptives.

Lind, however, wants no part in promoting promiscuity. The Star Tribune explains:

[Lind] is a devout Catholic with moral objections to contraception, said his attorney, Erick Kaardal. In 2001, Lind conducted a Catholic ceremony, attended by 30 people and officiated by a priest, making a formal commitment to operate the companies "in accordance with the teaching of Jesus Christ," according to court papers.

In a court document, Kaardal wrote, "When Lind's businesses engage in or cooperate with activity that violates Catholic teaching, Lind believes it is a violation of his own religious beliefs. Consequently, when Lind's businesses have engaged in or cooperated with activities that violate Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, he has attempted, where possible, to cause them to cease such activity or cooperation with the same."

RELATED: Owner of American Manufacturing Company may close rather than offer contraception

Lower courts have objected that line of reasoning, ruling that while religious organizations may exempt themselves from the contraception mandate, for-profit companies like Annex can't.

Regardless of what the appeals court decides, Kaardal told the Pioneer Press that a case like Lind's is likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court within the next 15 months.

And if all else fails, the Strib reports that Lind is working to put together a contraception-less health care plan that he can offer employees. Currently, no local health insurance companies offer anything like that.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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