Greensburg diocese granted injunction on contraception

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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: rlord@post-ga­ or 412-263-1542. Twit­ter @rich­e­lord. First Published August 20, 2014 5:36 PM

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