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Justice Sotomayor Delays Birth Control Mandate for Religious Groups

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor halted the implementation of a controversial part of President Obama’s new healthcare law that would require religious organizations to provide employees with insurance plans that also include birth control. The law was originally scheduled to go in effect yesterday. Ruling on behalf of a group of Catholic nuns, Justice Sotomayor placed an “emergency stay” on the law, which means that its constitutionality will ultimately, in all likelihood, be decided by the Supreme Court.

Despite an Obama administration compromise (that would allow organizations with moral objections to contraception to have the insurance companies actually pay for the birth control, and then be reimbursed), the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged order of nuns said they would not sign the insurer’s paperwork regarding birth control. The nuns’ lawyer told the AP, “The Little Sisters are an order of Catholic nuns whose religious faith leads them to devote their lives to caring for the elderly poor. Not surprisingly, they have sincere and undisputed religious objections to complying with this Mandate.” In statement released on Wednesday, the White House disputed the position of Justice Sotomayor, who was an Obama-appointee to the court: “[We] remain confident that our final rules strike the balance of providing women with free contraceptive coverage while preventing non-profit religious employers with religious objections to contraceptive coverage from having to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for such coverage” …

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