By David G. Savage
Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)
The Supreme Court on Friday shielded the Little Sisters of the Poor and other nonprofit religious groups from complying, for now, with the Obama administration's rule that they provide free contraceptives in the health insurance they offer employees.
The justices issued a one-paragraph order that keeps in place a temporary injunction that was handed down by Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Dec. 31.
The Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic charities objected to the so-called "contraceptive mandate" - a provision of the Affordable Care Act - on religious grounds.
Friday's order says that if Little Sisters and the other nonprofits that filed suit inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the government may not enforce the provision until the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver rules on their legal challenge.
Catholic leaders say the rule violates their religious freedom because they believe contraceptives are immoral.
The Obama administration says the requirement protects women's health care rights.
3 million enrolled for health care
WASHINGTON | About 800,000 people signed up for private health plans through the Affordable Care Act in January, pushing total enrollment to 3 million.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, touted the January figures in a speech in Jacksonville, Fla. Her agency later said in a blog post that "as our outreach efforts kick into even higher gear, we anticipate these numbers will continue to grow."
- Bloomberg News