Federal court rules against challenge to ObamaCare contraception mandate

A federal appeals court said Friday that the owners of a private company could not challenge the contraception mandate in President Obama's healthcare law.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said the owners of Conestoga, a cabinet-making company, could not challenge the mandate because of their personal religious beliefs.

The decision conflicts with another federal appeals court's ruling, which increases the likelihood that the Supreme Court will eventually hear the issue.

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The birth control requirement applies to companies, not the company's owners, the 3rd Circuit said Friday.

The Hahn family, which owns Conestoga, sued to block the contraception mandate in ObamaCare, saying it violated their religious beliefs. But the 3rd Circuit said the owners and their company are distinct entities.

"The Mandate does not impose any requirements on the Hahns," the court wrote. "Rather, compliance is placed squarely on Conestoga. If Conestoga fails to comply with the Mandate, the penalties … would be brought against Conestoga, not the Hahns."

President Obama's healthcare law requires most employers to include contraception in their employees' healthcare plans without charging a co-pay or deductible. Houses of worship are exempt, and there is a separate "accommodation" for religious-affiliated employers, such as Catholic hospitals.

But several owners of for-profit businesses have challenged the mandate in court, saying they should be allowed to opt out of the coverage requirement if it violates their personal religious beliefs.