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Justice Halts Religious Groups' Birth Control Opt-Out Role

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Supreme Court justice is blocking an appeals court's ruling that would have forced two western Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and a Christian college to fill out forms to avoid penalties for not directly providing contraceptive benefits.

Justice Samuel Alito issued the order Tuesday soon after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals filed documents making its ruling official. The religious groups had asked Alito to intervene while they appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Affordable Care Act says religious organizations can opt out of directly providing and paying to cover medical services they consider morally objectionable.

The diocese and college contend being forced to document their objections on the one-page form violates their rights because it makes them a party to a process enabling third-party insurers to provide the coverage.

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(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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