Judge dismisses contraception coverage lawsuit in St. Louis, appeal filed

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The Affordable Care Act's provision requiring employers to offer contraception coverage is not a violation of the First Amendment or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, according to a federal judge in St. Louis. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Political Fix reports that U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson ruled against Frank O'Brien and his company, O’Brien Industrial Holdings, who had filed a lawsuit in March arguing that the federal government was violating his religious freedom as a devout Catholic with the mandate set to begin in 2013.

In her opinion, Jackson noted that "the indirect financial support of a practice" (employer coverage of birth control) doesn't place a "substantial burden on a plaintiff's religious exercise." Jackson contended that O'Brien was still free to espouse his religious beliefs, so long as he didn't restrict his company's health-care plan offerings (a copy of the decision can be viewed here). O'Brien Industrial Holdings, a mining company based in St. Louis, filed a notice of appeal Monday.

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