Schuette Joins Suits To Restrict Women's Health Care

By Crystal Proxmire

ANN ARBOR -

Tom Monaghan, owner of the property management company Domino's Farms, does not want his employees to have access to birth control through their health insurance, and State Attorney General Bill Schuette has stepped up to help him win an injunction to allow him to avoid new federal healthcare mandates that require employers to offer contraceptive coverage.

On Dec. 27 a Federal judge awarded an injunction stalling any penalties that Monaghan would have to face as a result of not complying with the "Obamacare" health acts. Schuette filed a brief in support of Monaghan's claim that requiring employers to offer health insurance with birth control violates religious freedom.

The ACA has a provision that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013 that requires all companies with over 50 employees to comply with the ACA or be subject to financial penalties. The temporary injunction delays those penalties while the trial goes on. It might also be used by other non-compliant businesses as a way to delay their implementation of women's health coverage requirements.

Federal District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff granted the injunction, writing that Monaghan "has shown that abiding by the mandate will substantially burden his exercise of religion."

This is not the first injunction in Michigan that was supported by Schuette. On Oct. 31, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland, in the Eastern District of Michigan, issued an injunction that temporarily allows the owners of Michigan-based Weingartz Supply Company to deny contraceptive coverage in their health plans because they claim it violates their Catholic faith.

Weingartz Supply Company is an outdoor power equipment business where "equipment experts don't wear aprons," with locations in Utica, Ann Arbor, Farmington Hills and Cedar Springs. The family-owned business began in 1945, and according to court documents has only offered medical plans that do not include contraception. Weingartz partnered with a Catholic business owners association called Legatus, which was founded by Monaghan.

In Nov. 2012, Schuette joined a lawsuit by Grand Rapids CEO John Kennedy of Autocam and Autocam Medical to avoid having to provide contraception coverage. In that case, Jacek Pruski, a U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney, wrote in response to the lawsuit, "Indeed, women who receive their health coverage through corporations like Autocam would be subject to negative health and employment outcomes because they had obtained employment with a company that imposes its owners' religious beliefs on their health care needs," according to the MLive story about the suit. http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/11/schuette_backs_west_michigan_c.html In this case the suit was already filed when Schuette stepped in and asked to submit his own brief on the matter.

The Domino's Farm case has raised the eyebrows of the Michigan Democratic Party in particular, because in this instance Domino's Farms owner, Thomas Monaghan, contributed $2,400 to Schuette's campaign in 2010.

"Schuette is once again on duty for big corporations, and in this case he's actually using taxpayer dollars to help out a campaign donor," said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. "On top of all that, Schuette is wasting our tax dollars in an effort to deny women access to essential health care services. Corporations shouldn't be allowed to prevent parents from deciding when and how many kids to have, and Schuette shouldn't be using state resources to campaign for the Tea Party vote."

Monaghan is best known as the founder of Domino's Pizza, although he no longer owns the chain. In the 1980s it was sold to Bain Capital, who controlled it until it went public in 2004. Domino's Farms is a real-estate management company run by Monaghan.

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