Roman Catholic Church-affiliated organizations on Tuesday obtained last-minute court injunctions that give them temporary exemptions from a part of the Obamacare healthcare law that requires employers to provide insurance policies covering contraception.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a temporary injunction to Baltimore-based Little Sisters of the Poor and Illinois-based Christian Brothers Services, plus related entities.
Sotomayor is giving the government until Friday morning to respond to her decision.
Two different appellate courts had granted stays in three other cases that were pending at the high court, filed by various organizations, including Catholic University of America and non-profits in Michigan and Tennessee, said a lawyer representing the groups. The lower-court actions meant the Supreme Court did not need to act in those cases.
The groups were all asking the courts to exempt them temporarily from the so-called contraception mandate while litigation continues. The mandate, which was to take effect for the organizations on Wednesday, is already in place for many women who have private health insurance.
The organizations accuse the federal government of forcing them to support contraception and sterilization in violation of their religious beliefs or face steep fines.
The 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, requires employers to provide health insurance policies that cover preventive services for women, including contraception and sterilization.
The law makes an exception for religious institutions such as houses of worship that mainly serve and employ members of their own faith, but not for schools, hospitals, and charitable organizations that employ people of all faiths.
As a compromise, the administration agreed to an accommodation for nonprofits affiliated with religious entities, which was finalized in July.