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Obamacare: US judge lets Catholic-owned firm cut contraception from coverage

A federal judge issued an injunction after Catholic owners of a private company in Colorado argued that Obama's health-care reform violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.

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A federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction that allows the Catholic owners of a private company in Colorado to avoid providing their female employees with contraceptives as required under President Obama’s health-care reform law.

The owners of the company, Hercules Industries, objected to the requirement under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), saying it violated their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Company officials say they are striving to build their business around a corporate culture based on principles of the Roman Catholic Church. As such, their existing self-insured health plan does not include coverage for contraception or sterilization.

The health-care reform law, upheld last month by the US Supreme Court, would require them to provide such coverage or pay a penalty tax.

The owners went to court, arguing that the ACA violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.

Government lawyers countered that if the court were to grant Hercules Industries a religious exemption, the government would face a flood of requests for similar exemptions from private companies. The action would undermine the public interest and Congress’s goal of improving the health of women across the country, they said.

US District Judge John Kane disagreed. “These interests are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion,” he said in an 18-page decision.

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