News and analysis
February 13, 2015

Court Rejects Pa. Groups' Challenge to Birth-Control Rule

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act's birth-control mandate, as revised by the Obama administration to accommodate religious nonprofits, does not violate faith groups' First Amendment rights, the Associated Press reports. The 3rd Circuit Court reversed lower-court findings for two Catholic dioceses and a Christian college in western Pennsylvania that are among dozens of religious groups challenging the requirement that employees' health plans cover contraceptive care.

At issue is the compromise enacted by the White House last year that allows faith groups to opt out of paying for and directly providing contraceptive coverage by filing a one-page form stating their moral objection. Many faith organizations contend doing so still violates their beliefs by making them complicit in facilitating birth control, but 3rd Circuit Judge Marjorie O. Rendell's opinion said the reformed rule places "no substantial burden" on groups' religious freedom. The ruling is the fourth by a U.S. appeals court backing the White House position.