Catholic college wins temporary reprieve from birth control mandate

A Catholic university in southwest Florida can avoid millions of dollars in fines under ObamaCare's birth control mandate while its legal challenge makes its way through court, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. 

Ave Maria University and its lawyers cheered the temporary injunction as a blow to the contraceptive rules, which have become a flashpoint in debates over the federal healthcare law. 

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"After dozens of court rulings, the government still doesn’t seem to get that it can’t force faith institutions to violate their beliefs," said Eric Baxter, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the college. 

"Fortunately, the courts continue to see through the government’s attempts to disguise the Mandate’s religious coercion." 

The decision came from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. 

At issue is the Affordable Care Act's effort to ensure that most female workers have access to no-cost birth control as part of their employer-based health plans. 

Under the law, most businesses are required to provide that coverage in their policies. 

Religiously affiliated employers that object can follow a separate process in which the government tasks their insurance company with providing for the coverage at no cost to the organization. 

Employers in this group previously had to alert the insurer to their objection themselves. Under a more recent policy, they are asked to tell federal health officials, who will pass the word along. 

Groups that consider some or all forms of birth control immoral remain opposed to the most recent policy, arguing that to engage in any process that ultimately provides the objectionable coverage violates their religious liberty. 

U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. allowed the temporary injunction but did not rule on the merits of Ave Maria's case Tuesday. 

In his order, Moody said the college deserved short-term relief because the first wave of enforcement fines are due to hit Nov. 1 while its case is pending.