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White House Fights Back On Contraception Mandate Injunction

The Obama administration responded Friday to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's injunction against Obamacare's contraception mandate.
Posted at 9:01 PM, Jan 03, 2014

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rang in her new year with a bang — signing an injunction halting a controversial piece of President Obama's signature healthcare law. Now, the administration is pushing back.

Sotomayor's injunction blocks the administration from enforcing the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate on certain groups. The law required employers to provide reproductive health coverage, including birth control, to their employees. (Via PBS)

Several religious organizations against artificial birth control view the mandate as a violation of their religious freedom. A nonprofit order of Catholic nuns known as the Little Sisters for the Poor sued the administration, claiming the law requires them to provide contraception or face strict fines. (Via YouTube / BecketFundVideo)

Responding to the injunction Friday, the White House noted the mandate's religious exemption accommodates nonprofit religious groups, who can file an objection to the mandate and hand the burden of contraception coverage over to a third-party insurer. (Via The Department of Justice)

But a CNN contributor notes the act of signing over responsibility for contraception to another institution might not sit well with the Little Sisters.

"They feel like if they're forced to find an insurance company and sign over obligation to them, they're still violating their religious conscience."

Complicating the case even further is the Little Sister's current healthcare provider. The Christian Brothers Trust covers the nuns under a "church plan" — which is exempt from the contraception mandate. A writer for The Guardian notes "the Little Sisters can continue operating exactly as before, and nothing will happen."

A legal counsel for the Little Sisters argues it's not quite that simple: one of the groups associated with their plan doesn't have a religious objection to contraception, and the Sisters believe even signing a waiver makes them complicit in the mandate. (Via The Washington Times)

Following the government's response, Justice Sotomayor will decided whether or not to keep her injunction in place. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear two challenges to the contraception mandate from for-profit employers this spring.