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November 17, 2014

Appeals Court Backs Obama on Contraceptive Opt-Out for Faith Groups

A federal appeals court ruled Friday in favor of the Obama administration's accommodation for religious nonprofits that object to providing contraceptive coverage to employees under the Affordable Care Act, write The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor.

In the first appellate ruling on the issue since the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision in June, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously said the compromise, which requires faith groups to file an objection with the government, does not place a substantial burden on the organizations' religious freedom.

The case, brought by several groups including the anti-abortion organization Priests for Life, is one of many filed by religious nonprofits challenging the birth-control rule that are now before lower courts. Plaintiffs argue that the latest accommodation, in which the government arranges and third-party insurers pay for contraceptive care, still makes faith groups complicit in providing such coverage because their objection triggers the process.