|By Adam Brandolph, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review|
The diocese said the administration was violating its religious freedom by ordering the diocese to facilitate and, in some cases, pay for abortion-inducing drugs, birth control and other services to which its objects.
U.S. District Judge
Even though the Diocese of
"The ruling does not end the legal efforts to challenge this mandate," said
Local affiliates of
The local church-affiliated groups said that while some of their health plans are "grandfathered" from having to pay directly for drugs such as the so-called "morning-after pill" and other contraceptives, the administration's exemption that would have their insurers offer such services directly to employees and their dependents still violates the organization's religious beliefs.
"Even if plaintiffs do not end up paying for the prohibited drugs and services, they will still be forced to violate their religious beliefs by facilitating the provision of those drugs and services," the lawsuit said.
The diocese additionally said in the lawsuit that it needed time to plan for employee health care benefits, that it was unable to enter into collective bargaining negotiations in January, set tuition rates in February and make decisions about teacher retention in April because of uncertainty regarding whether the changes would be amended.
McVerry rejected that argument, saying the diocese must suffer "an actual or imminent injury, not a conjectural or hypothetical injury."
In dismissing the case, McVerry said a future lawsuit is possible "if plaintiffs' concerns are not resolved to their satisfaction ... at a time when harm is more imminent and more certain."
"This is not a win on the merit of the law. These challenges are ultimately going to get heard on their merit and on their merit they're ultimately going to prevail.
"They're going to rule this mandate overreaches and runs afoul of the First Amendment," Cooper said.
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|Source:||McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|