‘The health-care law puts my family in an impossible dilemma, where we 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,” Carrie Kolesar of Seneca Hardwood Lumber Co. in Cranberry, Pa., tells National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez in an interview. “No American should be faced with a decision like that,” she continues.
Kolesar is a part owner of this family business established in 1961. The family is Catholic and considers the HHS contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing-drug “Preventative Services” mandate — which the White House has introduced as part of its health-care law — a clash with conscience.
Kolesar and her family, the Heplers, have joined a lawsuit with Geneva College, a Presbyterian school in Pennsylvania, against the HHS over the mandate, which went into effect on August 1.
“We only ask that the government uphold freedom and not bully us into purchasing insurance for ourselves and our employees that would force us to abandon essential tenets of our faith,” Kolesar tells National Review.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s your role in the family business?
CARRIE KOLESAR: I am a part owner and board member with my parents and six of my siblings.
LOPEZ: How important is the business to your family’s life and livelihood?
KOLESAR: My husband works full time for the company, so it constitutes our entire livelihood and is the source of our health insurance.
LOPEZ: When did your family first realize that this HHS mandate was going to be a problem for you?
KOLESAR: Shortly after the mandate was issued, we realized that if we could no longer ask our insurance company to write out products and procedures that we believe are wrong, we would be unable to ethically provide insurance for ourselves and our employees.
LOPEZ: When and why did you decide to sue the government?
KOLESAR: A few weeks after the mandate was finalized, I saw that Alliance Defending Freedom was taking a case for a private business and I contacted them for advice regarding our situation. The HHS mandate has put us in a situation where we can’t provide insurance for ourselves and our employees without violating our moral obligations and freedom of conscience. My parents, my siblings, and I believe that the public and our government need to be more aware of the problems caused when we don’t protect freedom of conscience.
LOPEZ: What does it mean for you as an American to have to sue the government?
KOLESAR: As an American, I am part of the government “by the people.” Religious freedom is a fundamental freedom granted to us by God and protected by the government. We have a duty to shape and inform our government when it is failing to do its job.
LOPEZ: What’s your reaction to those who accuse the likes of Cardinal Dolan, who are opposing the mandate, of waging a “war on women”?
KOLESAR: That’s ridiculous. Catholic leaders have an obligation to communicate the teaching of the Catholic Church, which has consistently taught that contraception and abortion are gravely wrong and harmful to women and society.