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Federal Judge Dismisses Mo. Company's Contraceptive Coverage Suit

Federal Judge Dismisses Mo. Company's Contraceptive Coverage Suit

October 2, 2012 — A federal judge in Missouri on Friday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the federal contraceptive coverage rules that are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), the AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

The suit was filed on behalf of Frank O'Brien, who is Catholic, and his business, O'Brien Industrial Holdings, which is a secular company.

The suit argued that requiring O'Brien's business to offer contraceptive coverage to its employees is unconstitutional because it infringes on his religious beliefs. The rules would force the business to either comply or face "ruinous fines that would have a crippling impact on [its] ability to survive economically," the suit alleged.

Judge's Decision

U.S. District Court Judge Carole Jackson disagreed with the claims, writing, "This Court rejects the proposition that requiring indirect financial support of a practice, from which plaintiff himself abstains according to his religious principles, constitutes a substantial burden on plaintiff's religious exercise."

Anthony Rothert, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, said the ruling is believed to be the first to address the merits of the contraceptive coverage rules.

The decision comes after the federal government filed an appeal of a federal judge's temporary order barring it from penalizing a private Colorado business for violating the rules (AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/1).