A federal judge ruled in favor of the Catholic Benefits Association last week, issuing a permanent injunction and declaratory relief against the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate.This means that organizations belonging to the CBA do not have to provide coverage of drugs, the use of which they believe to be immoral, as dictated by the mandate.
The CBA represents more than 1,000 Catholic employers, all of whom seek to provide health insurance for their employees without violating their religious beliefs. In 2014, the CBA filed two federal lawsuits against the HHS mandate which required all insurance plans to cover contraception, sterilization procedures, and emergency contraception. More than 88,000 people work for companies that are part of the CBA.
Companies that are not part of the CBA are still subject to the mandate, which remains in place as-is. The Catholic Church teaches that contraception and direct sterilization are “morally unacceptable” means of regulating birth.
The CBA argued that this mandate, which was not part of the Affordable Care Act, was forcing Catholic employers to violate their deeply-held religious beliefs. U.S. District Court Judge David Russell agreed, and issued the permanent decision. This injunction will prevent the federal government from enforcing the mandate, and Russell also ruled that this mandate had been in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by attempting to force employers to provide contraception and sterilization, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Failure to comply with the mandate meant that businesses were subject to fines. The companies that make up the CBA had collectively accrued $6.9 billion in fines, which were eliminated with the ruling.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.