Judge Gives Gov’t Time to Mend Health Care Law

CHICAGO (CNS) – A U.S. District Court judge Feb. 8 dismissed a lawsuit filed against the federal contraceptive mandate by the Springfield and Joliet dioceses, their respective Catholic Charities agencies and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The dioceses and Catholic Charities agencies argued that the federal regulations requiring all employers, including most religious employers, to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans violate their religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Until the final rules on the mandate are implemented, the Obama administration has in place a “safe harbor” period that protects employers from immediate government action against them if they fail to comply with the mandate.

But the dioceses and agencies said in the lawsuit they would need time to “begin taking compliance measures now” to prepare for when the safe harbor period ends.

The judge ruled that “the necessity to postpone judicial review of plaintiffs’ claims until the departments have finalized the amended regulations outweighs the purported hardship to plaintiffs in their ability to plan for contingencies.”

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