White House Pushing Courts to Force Contraception Issue

Monday, 25 Feb 2013 02:33 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The Obama administration wants courts to force companies protesting the contraceptive requirement included in Obamacare to provide the service before the legal fight is resolved.

Almost 50 lawsuits have already been filed by religious organizations and private businesses against the healthcare act's requirement that contraceptive coverage be provided to their employees, reports Politico. More than half of them were filed by church-affiliated organizations.

But while the lawsuits claim the White House is violating religious freedoms, the administration argues that private businesses must comply with the law because they are not entitled to the same protections as religious groups or individuals.

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Trial courts have allowed some companies to ignore the requirements until final decisions are made on the underlying issue of religious freedom. And many of the lawsuits have been put on hold until this fall because that part of the law doesn't go into effect until then.

Legal experts predict the issue will end up before the Supreme Court as soon as next winter.

Opponents say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects corporations as well as religious organizations and claim the government can't order business owners to go against their religious beliefs and provide payments for birth control or morning-after pills.

Planned Parenthood and other pro-Obamacare groups are backing up the White House in the court fight and on the political front as well. Planned Parenthood last week started running ads against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, accusing him of siding with employers who want to control women's access to contraceptives.

Even if the courts rule against the contraceptive requirement, it's not likely the birth-control policy would be eliminated entirely, but it would be curtailed, legal experts agree.

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