WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7, 2013, (Heritage Foundation) - On Wednesday, Representatives Diane Black, R–TN, Jeff Fortenberry, R–NE, and John Fleming, R–LA, introduced the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act, which seeks to protect the constitutional freedom of individuals and employers to live and act in accordance with their deeply held beliefs.

The Obamacare mandate that forces almost all employers to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception—regardless of moral or religious objection—places business owners and employees in an untenable situation, forcing them to choose between their faith and their work.

“The health-care law puts my family in an impossible dilemma,” explains Carrie Kolesar, part owner of Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, which is suing over the mandate. “[W]e have to choose between violating our freedom of conscience and giving up freedoms protected under the Constitution, or facing severe government penalties that will harm our families and put us out of business. No American should be faced with a decision like that.”

The threat of crippling federal fines—to the tune of up to $100 per employee per day—could very well mean the closure of job-creating companies. Autocam Corporation and Autocam Medical, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, also plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the mandate, face up to $24 million in fines per year unless the companies fall in line with the mandate. CEO John Kennedy explains:

I don’t understand why the Obama administration is attacking two manufacturing companies that provide 680 jobs with an average hourly W-2 of $53,000, and are hiring—especially when most of those jobs are in a state like Michigan.

The Administration has explicitly denied for-profit companies any protection from the Obamacare mandate, ignoring the role of faith and values in some business owners’ work and success.

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Chris and Mary Anne Yep, who own Triune Health Group in Chicago, see their work as “a form of religious stewardship” and seek to integrate their faith in how they care for their customers and employees. But under the Obamacare mandate, the Yeps would be unable to run their company according to the values that have helped make their company successful.

“What right do they have to do this, to take away our freedoms?” asks Mary Anne, co-founder and vice president of Triune Health Group, which was recently named the “Best Place to Work for Women” in theChicago area.

Protecting Americans from the coercion of this particular Obamacare mandate is important and necessary. But even if the rule is rescinded or thrown out by a court, the government will retain the authority through other parts of Obamacare to coerce insurance companies and employers and trample on individuals’ constitutional freedoms by imposing additional objectionable mandates.

Americans deserve more. Individuals should be able to choose health care that best fits the needs of their families and respects their freedom. Employers should be able to build and grow job-creating businesses in accordance with their values without threat of government penalties.

Health care reform that increases access, decreases costs, and puts control over personal health care decisions back in the hands of the American people is possible. The first step on the road to freedom is rescinding the Obamacare mandate—and protecting Americans’ liberties more generally will require full repeal of Obamacare.

Reprinted with permission from the Heritage Foundation.