WASHINGTON, D.C., July 27, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Starting next week, American business owners “will be the casualties of an unprecedented war on religious freedom,” according to Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

That is when the HHS mandate – which requires private businesses to include contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient medications in their employees’ health care coverage, even if doing so would violate their religious beliefs – goes into effect.

Private businesses must begin observing the health care law’s most controversial provision on August 1. Entrepreneurs who refuse to comply will face fines of up to $100 per day per employee

Referring to one family business that has challenged the mandate in court, Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Matt Bowman said, “The cost of freedom for this family could be millions of dollars per year in fines that will cripple their business if the Obama administration ultimately has its way.”

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On Friday, a federal judge issued an injunction against the HHS mandate to Bowman’s clients, the Newlands, a Catholic family that owns Hercules Industries in Denver.

“While this is only the first round of litigation, this is a significant win as it reaffirms that millions of Americans cannot be coerced by the federal government into violating their religious faith,” said FRC religious liberty director Ken Klukowski.

Other pro-life Catholics, and their lawyers, hope to duplicate the ADF’s success.

Legatus, the largest association of Catholic businesses in the country, has sought an exemption from the law, as well. The Thomas More Law Center, based in Ann Arbor, has asked a federal judge in Michigan for a Temporary Restraining Order against the mandate on behalf of Legatus. “Without the Court’s intervention, the HHS mandate effectively penalizes their free exercise of religion,” said lead counsel Erin Mersino. 

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, went further. “The Obama administration deliberately declared war on the Catholic Church by promulgating the HHS Mandate,” he said

The mandate requires businesses to furnish their employees with “all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” By law, this includes every female from first menstruation until menopause – a category that includes girls as young as 12 years old

Thousands of business owners of various religious backgrounds could face prohibitively high penalties if they fail to comply, in effect forcing them to choose between operating their firms or exercising their faith.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration is so hostile to Christians and beholden to the abortion movement that it fails to see the profoundly human element of this mandate and how it impacts everyday life for millions of Americans,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com.

The Department of Health and Human Services has given religious employers an additional year to comply with the mandate, regardless of their doctrinal views. “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan upon learning of the extension.