Nebraska judge dismisses lawsuit over contraception mandate

A federal judge in Nebraska dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the Obama administration's contraception mandate.

The suit was filed by seven state attorneys general, all of whom are Republicans, and three Catholic organizations based in Nebraska. Judge Warren Urbom dismissed the suit because the contraception mandate has not taken effect yet, the Lincoln Journal-Star reported.

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The policy requires most employers to cover contraception in their employees' healthcare plans without charging a co-pay or deductible. Churches and houses of worship are exempt. Religious-affiliated employers, such as Catholic schools and hospitals, do not have to provide the coverage directly, but their employees can obtain contraception through the insurance company without cost-sharing.

The White House delayed the policy until 2013 while it works out remaining questions. Urbom said the plaintiffs can't show that they've been harmed by a rule that isn't in effect, meaning they don't have standing to sue.

"The plaintiffs face no direct and immediate harm, and one can only speculate whether the plaintiffs will ever feel any effects from the rule when the temporary enforcement safe harbor terminates," Urbom wrote, according to the Journal-Star.

Although states took the lead in challenging the healthcare law's individual insurance mandate, the legal battle over the contraception mandate is being waged mostly by Catholic institutions.

The seven states whose case Urbom dismissed said the contraception mandate will cause religious-affiliated institutions to roll back their public services so they can qualify for the policy's religious exemption. That will create a greater demand for state-funded services, the states argued.



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