Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said on a radio program Wednesday that going to jail may be an effective way to protest a mandate tied to ObamaCare that requires employers to provide contraceptive coverage.
Appearing on on Iowa conservative radio host Steve Deace’s syndicated show, the Republican gubernatorial candidate said civil disobedience is one way to attack the federal health care law’s requirement.
The so-called contraceptive mandate is now being challenged in a federal lawsuit by the Hobby Lobby stores. The company is primarily concerned about coverage for the morning-after pill, which some consider an abortion-causing drug.
Cuccinelli called the mandate an attack on the Roman Catholic Church and religious freedom and suggested that opponents fight back by forcing the feds to crack down on those who don’t comply.
Cuccinelli, who is Catholic, said he had spoken to a bishop who suggested he’d go to jail to protest it.
“My local bishop said he told a group, `Well, you know, I told a group I’m ready to go to jail,’ and I told him, `Bishop, don’t take this personally – you need to go to jail,” Cuccinelli said, trying to balance levity with seriousness.
Hobby Lobby and Mardel Inc., a religious book seller owned by the same conservative Christian family, plan to defy the federal health care law that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency contraception. The company risks fines up to $1.3 million a day.
The companies are suing to block the requirement in the federal law, claiming it violates their owners’ religious beliefs. They say the morning-after pill is tantamount to abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in a woman’s womb.
In three years as attorney general, Cuccinelli has pursued aggressive efforts to restrict abortion in Virginia. Last year, Cuccinelli forced the State Board of Health to reverse a decision to exempt existing abortion clinics from a new law that required them to meet the same architectural standards as new hospitals by saying the board overstepped its bounds and refusing to certify the board’s regulations.
He was also the first state attorney general to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 federal health care reforms. In September 2011, a federal appeals court rejected Virginia’s challenge to the law, saying that the state didn’t have the right to bring a lawsuit.