DENVER (CBS4) - A judge has sided with a Colorado company whose owners oppose contraception and blocked a federal mandate that the company's health insurance for employees include birth control coverage.
The mandate stems from President Obama's controversial Affordable Care Act.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Kane issued an order Friday that bars the government from enforcing the requirement against Hercules Industries, Inc., a Denver heating and air conditioning company.
The judge, in an 18-page decision, cited the owners' religious rights as the basis for his temporary injunction. The owners are Roman Catholics whose religious beliefs are consistent with the church's teaching against contraception.
The injunction applies only to the one company and is in effect at least until the judge decides the outcome of the owners' lawsuit which alleges the requirement violates their religious rights.
However, the mandate for birth control coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act generally applies overall to employers with 50 or more full-time workers and takes effect Nov. 1.
Other companies could cite religious freedom to ask federal judges to block the mandate.
The Obama administration mandated that federally approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures be part of the health coverage provided by employers at no cost to female employees.
Some religious organization that are employers are exempt from the requirement to cover contraceptive services.
For purposes of his temporary injunction, Kane said the public interest in the free exercise of religion outweighs the act's goals of improving the health of women and equalizing health insurance coverage of preventive services for women.
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