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Judge Grants Christian Colleges Temporary Exemption From Contraceptive Coverage Rules

Judge Grants Christian Colleges Temporary Exemption From Contraceptive Coverage Rules

May 27, 2014 — A federal judge has granted two Christian colleges a temporary injunction against the federal contraceptive coverage rules while their lawsuit challenging the requirement continues, the Des Moines Register reports (Leys, Des Moines Register, 5/21).

The rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), require most insurers to offer contraceptive coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans. Houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, and religiously affiliated not-for-profits are eligible for an accommodation that ensures they do not have to pay for or directly provide the coverage to their employees (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/15).

Dordt College in Iowa and Cornerstone University in Michigan filed a suit challenging the requirements in October 2013. The schools argued that the rules violate their religious beliefs (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/25/13). They asked to be exempted from complying with the rules.

Ruling Details

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett ruled that Dordt and Cornerstone are temporarily exempted from the requirements. He noted that the Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a similar issue in a case involving the retail store Hobby Lobby.

In addition, Bennett noted that the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which holds jurisdiction in Iowa, has granted two similar injunctions (Des Moines Register, 5/21).