Two families will be before the Supreme Court next week challenging the Obamacare mandate that requires employers—under threat of crippling fines—to provide coverage of potentially life-ending drugs and devices. To understand the mandate’s serious threat to religious freedom, some basic biology is helpful.

An amicus brief filed by Americans United for Life (AUL) on behalf of a number of medical groups explains how these drugs and devices can act to end the life of a human embryo.

It is undisputed that a new, distinct human organism comes into existence during the process of fertilization.… [I]n the context of human life, a new individual human organism is initiated at the union of ovum and sperm.

Yet, as even the manufacturers admit, some of the mandated drugs and devices can potentially prevent implantation of that already conceived human embryo—effectively causing a very early abortion.

And that has serious consequences for Americans’ right to live and work according to their beliefs. The brief continues:

[I]t is clear that forcing the family businesses to pay for such drugs violates their rights and contradicts this nation’s longstanding commitment to the freedom of conscience.… What the family businesses—and Amici—conscientiously oppose is not simply the ending of a “pregnancy,” but the ending of human life itself.

Even the Obama Administration admits in its filings before the Supreme Court that the mandate requires coverage of drugs that can prevent implantation. As the AUL brief explains:

There is no dispute among the parties that at least some of these drugs have post-fertilization (i.e., life-ending) mechanisms of action and can prevent implantation of an already-developing human embryo. The Government has conceded before this Court that various “emergency contraceptives” can work after fertilization but before implantation.…

Clearly, the family businesses are being forced to choose between either following their religious and conscientious beliefs or complying with the law. It is exactly this type of coercive dichotomy that violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of conscience. Freedom of conscience is a fundamental right that has been respected and protected since the founding of our Nation.

The problems with this mandate should have been foreseeable when Obamacare gave bureaucrats the power to decide what insurance companies must cover, employers must provide, and individuals must purchase. With the input of special interest groups—including Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider—the Obama Administration used its newfound authority under the health care law to run roughshod over Americans’ religious freedom through the Obamacare mandate.

Employees, individuals, and all Americans should be able to choose health care that best fits the needs of their families and respects their freedom. And employers should be able to build and grow job-creating businesses in accordance with their values without threat of government penalties.

The Supreme Court should recognize Obamacare’s serious assault on Americans’ religious liberty. In the meantime, Congress can start disassembling the rest of Obamacare, which is trampling on Americans’ health care, prosperity, and fundamental freedoms.