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Conestoga asks full Third Circuit to hear case

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After a three-judge panel issued a ruling against Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., the company has requested that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reconsider its case, this time en banc.

En banc hearings, which include all the judges on a circuit's bench, are reserved for major cases. If the request is denied, the company's remaining option is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Conestoga, located in East Earl Township, Lancaster County, has about 1,000 employees and is owned by the Hahns, a Mennonite family. They are contesting what is known as the contraceptive mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the grounds that they consider the morning-after pill to be an abortifacient and believe providing it to be wrong.

Under the mandate, the companies must include the contraceptives in their health insurance plans or face a penalty of $100 per employee per day. About 30 companies have challenged the law, which is also being protested by nonprofit groups, on the same grounds. Conestoga's case has progressed further than most to date.

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