Federal judge dismisses Belmont Abbey College's suit against mandate
Published: July 20, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CNS) -- A federal judge has dismissed Belmont Abbey College's lawsuit against the Obama administration that had challenged the federal contraception mandate, but lawyers for the Benedictine college in Belmont say they will continue the fight. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of the District of Columbia dismissed Belmont Abbey's case July 18, saying that the college did not have standing to bring the case to court, nor could it demonstrate it had been harmed yet by the contraception mandate. The contraception mandate -- issued in August 2011 by the federal Department of Health and Human Services as part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- requires nearly all employers to provide free artificial contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs coverage in their insurance plans. There is a narrow exemption for employers who object to providing these services on religious grounds, namely if they serve or hire people primarily of their own faith. The contraceptive mandate takes effect for new health plans and those that undergo significant changes Aug. 1, 2012 -- unless the narrow religious exemption applies or a one-year "temporary enforcement safe harbor" applies. Following an outcry over the contraceptive mandate from Catholic institutions across the country and the U.S. bishops this past spring, the Obama administration established the "safe harbor" period to allow those employers that do not provide contraceptives for religious reasons time to figure out how they will comply with the mandate. The "safe harbor" period expires Aug. 1, 2013. The mandate requiring individuals to get health insurance or face fines goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014.
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