Religious freedom got a victory this week when a St. Louis appeals court ruled against the Obamacare birth control mandate, saying it placed an undue burden on religious organizations. The cases were filed by Heartland Christian College and addiction services non-profit CNS International Ministries Inc., which are in Iowa.

Even after the Obama administration produced what they called a "constitutional workaround" which forced the religious groups to put contraception into their insurance plans, it still made their insurance companies pay for the birth control.

The employers said this still made them compliant in providing birth control since they were paying for the employee’s insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, says that employers have to provide employees with health care insurance, including providing access to birth control products, as well as paying for sterilization and other women’s medical services.

Ruling by Appeals Court Upholds Lower Court Rulings

The 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided in the favor of the religious organizations by saying the Obamacare compromise for its birth control mandate also violated religious freedom.

This decision agrees with decisions made previously by two lower courts that barred the government from forcing the religious organizations to comply with the Obamacare contraception mandate.

Due to the appeals court decision, the case is expected to go to the US Supreme Court during their next term, which is going to start in October and then goes through June. There have already been several petitions on the contraception mandate filed by employers.

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Previously, all of the other appeals courts had ruled in favor of the contraceptive mandate, so this is the first court to rule in favor of religious freedom.

Contraception Mandate Violates 1993 Federal Law

The employers affected say that the suggested opt-out option still violated a 1993 federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This is due to the fact that it still was being forced to offer contraception to employees despite the fact that their teachings are against the use of birth control.

The St. Louis appeals court agreed that the contraception mandate violated rights of religiously affiliated companies because it forced them to assist in providing coverage for birth control, instead, they were required to offer it separately to their employees or face monetary penalties.

Court Focused on Two Things in its Ruling

The court focused in part on the burden that would be undertaken by religious groups in having to pay this financial penalty.

The court also ruled that the work around by Obamacare didn’t satisfy the requirement of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that says that a morally troublesome regulation, such as the contraception mandate, has to meet its goal by the least restrictive means possible.

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