The Norman Transcript

State/Region

June 6, 2014

Catholic group exempt from contraceptives health rule

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge has granted nearly 200 Catholic employers an injunction to temporarily prevent the U.S. government from forcing them to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives.

The Catholic Benefits Association filed a lawsuit in March alleging that a provision of the Affordable Care Act forced them to violate their religious objections to contraception and abortion-inducing drugs.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge David Russell of Oklahoma City granted an injunction that exempts members from any fines or penalties arising from not complying with the provision while their objections are litigated.

The association — which includes archdioceses, an insurance company and a nursing home across almost 2,000 Catholic parishes nationwide — believes in the Catholic teaching that their ministries should include health care to their employees. But members “also believe in the Catholic teaching that any artificial interference with the creation and nurture of new life is wrong,” Russell said.

“The harm posed to these plaintiffs absent relief is quite tangible — they will either face severe monetary penalties or be required to violate their religious beliefs,” he said.

An attorney for the government, trial attorney Bradley P. Humphreys of the U.S. Department of Justice, declined to comment Thursday on the judge’s ruling.

Catholic officials praised the decision.

“The administration has already effectively granted exemptions from the mandate to various employers whose plans cover more than 130 million employees,” Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley said in a statement. “We’re simply seeking the same exemption for Catholic employers who have religious objections to the unjust requirements of the mandate.”

President of the Catholic Benefits Association Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, said the group was formed to support Catholic employers in providing quality, cost-competitive and morally compliant health care benefits for their employees.

“Yesterday’s decision makes this a reality,” Lori said.

The owners of the Hobby Lobby won a favorable ruling in a similar lawsuit in the same federal court and at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Common Core repeal has state teachers worried about instruction

    OKLAHOMA CITY — With the Legislature’s repeal of tough, new English and math standards known as Common Core, education leaders said they’re concerned Oklahoma students will fall further behind their counterparts in more than 40 states ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Highway Patrol sees spike in number of applicants

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Two bills that passed the Legislature this past spring have sparked an increase in the number of applicants to join the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, officials said....

    July 20, 2014

  • 1M visit Okla. parks

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A new report from the National Parks Service shows that more than 1 million people visited Oklahoma’s national parks in 2013 and spent $17.2 million. Oklahoma has thee national parks: Washita Battlefield National Historic ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Unemployment rate falls to 4.5 percent

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma unemployment rate was down one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.5 percent in June. The figures released Friday by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission show that while the number of Oklahomans without a ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Gay Marriage Oklahoma Court reverses ban on gay marriage

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal appeals court rulied Friday that Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, spurring celebration among gay rights activists but sparking sharp anger among Republican leaders in a conservative state that ...

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oklahoma firefighters help combat western wildfires

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Firefighters from Oklahoma are heading west to help battle wildfires....

    July 19, 2014

  • Three named to Oklahoma Capitol repair committee

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed three people to a committee that will oversee spending on repairs to Oklahoma’s nearly century-old state Capitol....

    July 19, 2014

  • Tulsa man dies in turnpike wreck

    BROKEN ARROW — Authorities say a 94-year-old Tulsa man has died after a wreck on the Muskogee Turnpike....

    July 19, 2014

  • Okla. wheat crop worst in nearly half a century

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Drought conditions that continued through spring, followed by a late freeze in April and untimely rains in June have produced the poorest Oklahoma wheat crop in nearly a half century, Oklahoma agriculture officials said....

    July 19, 2014

  • Cherokee Nation plans new casino

    SOUTH COFFEYVILLE — The principal chief of the Cherokee Nation says the tribe will soon begin work on a new casino in northern Oklahoma near the border with Kansas....

    July 19, 2014