Appeals Court Upholds Injunction Halting Health Mandate
ST. LOUIS — A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that President Barack Obama's health care law unjustly burdens religiously affiliated employers by forcing them to help provide insurance coverage for certain contraceptives, even though they can opt out of directly paying for it.
The ruling by a three-judge 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in St. Louis upheld lower court decisions that sided with plaintiffs who included three Christian colleges in Missouri, Michigan and Iowa.
The 25-page opinion conflicts with all other federal appellate courts, which have found in the U.S. government's favor.
As religiously affiliated entities, those colleges victorious with Thursday's ruling don't have to pay directly for their workers' birth control. Instead, they can seek an accommodation that requires their insurance providers to pay for it. But the groups still say the scheme makes them complicit in the providing of contraception and subjected them to possible fines for noncompliance.
Circuit Judge Roger Wollman, writing the ruling on the panel's behalf, wrote that the contraceptive mandate and accommodation process of the Affordable Care Act substantially burdens the plaintiffs' exercise of religion.