U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab on Wednesday granted a permanent injunction against enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage provisions to groups associated with the Greensburg Catholic Diocese.
The grant of the injunction, which follows similar decisions in favor of the Pittsburgh and Erie dioceses, is likely to be appealed by the Department of Justice to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Schwab wrote that the Greensburg diocese’s Catholic Charities arm and the St. John the Evangelist Regional Catholic Schools showed that the act’s demands place “a substantial burden on their religious exercise.”
The decision means that the organizations don’t have to provide their insurance administrators with forms objecting to coverage of certain reproductive services. Under the act, filing of the forms would prompt the insurers to provide the coverage, without charging the organizations.
“Without this injunction, we would have been required to choose between offering health insurance that includes coverage of abortifacient drugs, sterilization procedures, artificial contraceptives and other services that are morally unacceptable to the Catholic Church or face crippling fines” that would have forced shutdowns of programs, Greensburg Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt said in a news release.
The act requires that most employers — but not churches — provide coverage that covers abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception. It allows church-related groups to file certifications of objection, which require their administrators to pay for the services. That plank is subject to court challenges nationwide.
In February, the Department of Justice appealed Judge Schwab’s grant of a similar injunction to the Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1542. Twitter @richelord. First Published August 20, 2014 5:36 PM