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High Court Judge Grants Religious Exemption for Contraceptives

Women's health advocates slam last minute move that allows institutions to refuse insurance policies that include coverage for birth control

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

(Photo: afagen/ cc via flickr)Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Tuesday night granted Roman Catholic-affiliated groups a temporary exemption from the part of the Obamacare healthcare law that requires employers to provide insurance policies covering contraception, just hours before it was to have gone into effect.

The Guardian reports:

Catholic University of America and non-profit organisations in Michigan and Tennessee were among those filing three separate applications asking the court to temporarily exempt them from the so-called contraception mandate while litigation continues. The mandate, which comes into effect on 1 January, is already in place for many women who have private health insurance.

The organisations accuse the federal government of forcing them to support contraception and sterilisation in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.

The groups are due to hear a response from the federal government by 10 a.m. on Friday.

The high court has already agreed to hear constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate on birth control and other pregnancy-related services, in the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius.

"[I]n a country where over 99 percent of women report using birth control at some point in our lives – bosses have no business imposing their own politics on their employee’s health and decisions," said Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, after the Supreme Court announced they would take up the cases.

"If we start with birth control, will bosses next get to decide whether or not we get our children vaccinated? Or whether we can use treatments from stem cell research for life-threatening diseases?" Hogue continued. "Allowing this intrusion into personal decisions by their employers opens a door that won’t easily be shut.”

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