Hobby Lobby wins stay against birth control mandate

Customers walk to a Hobby Lobby store in Dallas in this Nov. 1, 2012 file photo. The arts and craft supply company owned by a Christian family asked a judge to block a portion of the new federal health care law, claiming that mandated coverage for certain birth control violates its religious freedom rights. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

OKLAHOMA CITY A federal judge is temporarily exempting Hobby Lobby Inc. from a provision in the new federal health care law that requires it to offer insurance coverage for the morning-after pill and similar birth control or face steep fines.

After hearing brief arguments Friday, U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a preliminary injunction for the Oklahoma arts and crafts chain. The judge stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the federal government time to consider an appeal.

The Christian owners of Hobby Lobby and the Mardel Christian bookstore chain argue that their religious beliefs are so deeply rooted that having to provide every form of birth control would violate their conscience.

The hearing comes several weeks after a federal appellate court ruled Hobby Lobby was likely to win its case.

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