OKLAHOMA CITY, July 19 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Oklahoma granted a temporary injunction allowing arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby to exclude contraception coverage in its healthcare plan.
U.S. District Court Judge Joe Heaton did not rule on the merits of the case in issuing the injunction Friday. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had already ruled the retailer has a right to sue over the Affordable Care Act mandate, The Hill reported.
In granting Hobby Lobby's request for the temporary injunction to the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act, Heaton said there is "substantial public interest in ensuring that no individual or corporation has their legs cut out from under them" while a legal case is before the courts.
Hobby Lobby, a non-profit arts and crafts store chain with 13,000 employees run by evangelical Christians, went to court last year to challenge the birth control mandate saying covering some forms of contraception -- including the "morning-after pill" -- for its employees would violate the group's religious beliefs. The business is not affiliated with a religious organization.
The temporary injunction allows Hobby Lobby to avoid fines for not providing contraception coverage to employees while the government appeals.
The healthcare reform law requires most businesses to provide coverage for a range of birth control in their health insurance plans, but churches and religious institutions are exempted from the mandate.