Federal appeals court says non-profit groups may not curtail birth control access.


A federal appeals court has upheld a portion of the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate that requires religiously affiliated non-profits to either offer contraceptive coverage in their employee health-care plans or sign a form demonstrating their objection to contraception.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Feb. 11 in Geneva College v. Burnell and Diocese of Pittsburgh v. Burwell that the Christian college, as well as groups tied to the Pittsburgh, Erie and Greensburg Catholic dioceses, see "no substantial burden" to their religious freedom simply by signing a form confirming their objection to birth control coverage. (Under the policy, once an organization submits its objection, a third party then offers birth control to that group's employees. The organization doesn't have to pay for it.)

The church affiliates argued, unsuccessfully, that if they are forced to provide contraceptive coverage while the diocese itself is not, it would have the effect of "dividing the church." The judges may have been skeptical of this argument since critics note that purely religious affiliates...

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