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Judge Delivers Lethal Blow to Birth Control Mandate

In what is being called a smashing victory for religious freedom, U.S. District Court Judge David Russell has issued a ruling in which he declared the Obama Administration’s controversial “birth control mandate” to be a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and has stopped all enforcement of the mandate against dozens of Catholic dioceses and institutions.

Cruxnow.com is reporting on the ruling handed down by Judge Russell which imposes a permanent injunction against the federal government from forcing Catholic non-profits from having to provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortion-causing drugs.

The ruling came in a case filed in 2014 by the Catholic Benefits Association (CBA),  which represents over 1,000 Catholic employers, including 60 dioceses and archdioceses as well as many religious orders, colleges, universities, hospitals and other ministries.

In addition to the injunction, Russell issued a declaratory judgement which holds that the mandate is illegal and is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It not only binds the current administration, which was against the mandate anyway, but it also binds all future administrations from imposing this onerous policy on CBA members.

An estimated $6.9 billion in fines that had accumulated against members of the CBA, which is based in Castle Rock, Colorado were also eliminated by the ruling.

“This is the tremendous win,” CEO Douglas G. Wilson said in a March 28 statement. “The first freedom in the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. The court has rightly ruled that employers should not be forced to violate their beliefs and cover morally problematic elective and often low-cost choices that individuals may wish to make.”

The mandate was put in place in 2012 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Affordable Care Act and required all employers, including most religious employers, to provide coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures, even if those procedures violated their religious beliefs.

Now known as the “birth control mandate,” the ruling touched off a firestorm across the nation and dozens of lawsuits from Catholic groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

Calling Judge Russell’s ruling a “lethal blow,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue said, “This is a smashing victory for religious liberty and a stunning defeat for the pro-abortion industry and its allies.”

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