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Birth control exemptions fail to stop lawsuits

The Obama administration offer to exempt select religious organizations from the health care law’s contraceptive mandate still leaves some employers unsatisfied

Last week, the Obama administration introduced some additional exemptions for employers that object to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s controversial contraceptive mandate. But the concessions, which were limited to faith-based institutions, are unlikely to stem the tide of lawsuits filed by businesses with moral qualms over the law.

The contraceptive mandate requires most secular, for-profit employers to provide health insurance coverage that includes FDA-approved contraceptives and sterilization or face fines for noncompliance. So far the law has sparked more than 40 lawsuits, many from business owners who say that the law violates their religious freedoms by forcing them to cover birth control.

The new exemptions would apply to churches and other houses of worship, and would allow religious non-profits to opt out of providing contraception coverage. Instead, those non-profits could choose separate individual health insurance policies in which the insurer pays for birth control.

Obama’s compromise, however, does not include an exception for secular companies, which are responsible for many of the lawsuits currently making their way through the courts. Companies have so far had mixed success when trying to obtain temporary injunctions from the contraceptive mandate. In December, the 10th Circuit denied such a request from Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., saying that it was unlikely a court would find that federal religious freedom protections extend to businesses. Both the 8th Circuit and the 7th Circuit, however, recently granted injunctions to businesses whose owners have similar moral objections to the mandate.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

For more coverage of contraception-related issues on InsideCounsel, see:

Obamacare faces another lawsuit over contraception coverage

Woman sues birth control pill maker for unintended pregnancy

Bayer accused of promoting Yaz birth control for unapproved uses

Hobby Lobby must cover morning-after pill, judge rules

Employees sue for birth control coverage

Alanna Byrne

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