PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has temporarily blocked a controversial part of Obamacare that affects the availability of contraceptives to women who work for Catholic-affiliated institutions.
In a case that has national implications but only applies to the little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver, Sotomayor gave the government until Friday to justify the implementation of this law.
It’s similar to a recent case locally where Catholic Bishop David Zubik asked — and got — the federal court to exempt Catholic Charities from providing contraceptives to its employees.
“It’s about our integrity, and it’s about continuing to maintain our beliefs,” Zubik said after testifying in court.
While employees of churches are exempted from the Affordable Care Act provision that all women be provided contraception by their employer’s insurance — religiously-affiliated groups like Catholic Charities and hospitals are not exempt.
Instead President Obama offered this compromise: “The insurance company, not the hospital, not the charity, will be required to reach out and offer the women contraceptive care free of charge.”
But Catholic bishops say that’s not enough.
“What Catholic Charities does has to be reflective of our Catholic beliefs,” said Zubik.
Little Sisters of the Poor in Denver worried that — without the stay — they could be subject to substantial fines.
While a single justice like Sotomayor can issue a temporary stay, it will take the full Supreme Court to decide what’s constitutional or not.
The court has already agreed to review two cases involving private for-profit companies whose owners say it violates their religious views to provide contraceptives to their employees.
The legal battle lines are being drawn.