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U.S. Supreme Court says nuns temporarily exempt from Obamacare

Jan. 25, 2014 at 5:07 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a charity run by a group of nuns can remain temporarily exempt from adding birth control coverage to its healthcare plans.

The ruling states that the New Year for a Catholic charity for the elderly run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the group's administrator, Christian Brothers Services, does not have to comply with the contraception mandate in Obamacare until their lawsuit is settled by a lower court, CNN reported.

The court said Friday: "If the employer applicants inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they are non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit."

The court also made it clear that it is not ruling on the nuns' lawsuit, stating: "The Court issues this order based on all of the circumstances of the case, and this order should not be construed as an expression of the Court's views on the merits."

Representatives for the nuns said they were pleased with the court's decision.

"We are delighted that the Supreme Court has issued this order protecting the Little Sisters," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, the group representing the nuns in court. "The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people. It doesn't need to force nuns to participate."

Under the healthcare law, religious-based organizations, such as hospitals and private faith-based universities, are exempt from providing birth control coverage to female employees, but are required to fill out a form, giving female employees access to contraception through separate health policies with no co-pay.

The nuns and other religious organizations have argued that signing the form makes them complicit in providing contraceptive coverage, thus violates their religious beliefs.

Churches and other places of worship are completely exempt from complying with the contraceptive requirements.

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