A Colorado business owned by a Catholic family does not have to comply with President Barack Obama’s new healthcare mandate that private employers provide employees with insurance coverage of birth control, a Colorado federal judge ruled on Friday.
District Judge John Kane in Denver temporarily blocked the government from the enforcing the contraception requirement against the religious owners of Hercules Industries Inc, a private manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.
The ruling only affects this plaintiff but opens the door for any company to seek relief on religious grounds. Lawyers for the Department of Health and Human Services argued that a temporary exemption for Hercules would interfere with the government’s ability to implement the law. But Kane was not persuaded.
“This harm pales in comparison to the possible infringement upon (the Newland family’s) constitutional and statutory rights,” the judge wrote. He noted that the government had already created numerous exceptions for religious employers, exempting over 190 million health plan participants.
The law posed an imminent harm to the company’s owners by forcing them to support contraception, sterilization and abortion in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines, Kane said.
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