Judge upholds birth-control requirement

Oct. 2, 2012 at 5:34 PM

ST. LOUIS, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Requiring a Catholic employer to provide contraception coverage for his employees does not violate his religious freedom, a U.S. judge says.

U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson in St. Louis ruled late Friday against O'Brien Industrial Holdings, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Frank O'Brien filed a notice of appeal Monday.

Jackson, in her decision, said nothing in the federal law requires O'Brien to use birth control himself. She said he is also free to discourage others from using birth control but cannot evade the law requiring him to provide the coverage for those who want it.

Francis Manion, representing O'Brien, called the ruling "not well supported by law or logic."

The contraception rule is part of President Obama's healthcare plan. O'Brien argued it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"RFRA is a shield, not a sword," Jackson said. "It protects individuals from substantial burdens on religious exercise that occur when the government coerces action one's religion forbids, or forbids action one's religion requires; it is not a means to force one's religious practices upon others. RFRA does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one's money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one's own."

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