Court rules against temporary injunction on mandate for Catholic groups


LANSING, Mich. (CNS) — The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a temporary injunction that had stopped enforcement of the federal contraceptive mandate against several Catholic entities in Michigan and Tennessee while they pursued further appeals of the mandate.

The Catholic plaintiffs include the Michigan Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Catholic Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation.

Writing for the court June 11, Judge Karen Nelson Moore said the plaintiffs already have available to them a way they can refuse to provide the coverage based on their moral objections.

She was referring to what the government calls “an accommodation,” requiring these employers to direct a third party to pay for coverage they find objectionable, but Catholic and other entities say the accommodation still does not solve their problem. They object to being involved at any level with this coverage.

Under the federal Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate directs most employers, including religious employers, to provide employees coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services.

The mandate does not include a conscience clause for employers who object to such coverage on moral grounds.

It does include an exemption for some religious employers that fit certain criteria. “Houses of worship,” including churches and dioceses, are exempt, but religious institutions within a diocese, such as schools, universities, social service agencies and hospitals are not exempt.