Court: New health law doesn't infringe on religious freedom

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The federal health care law doesn't infringe on the religious freedom of faith-based nonprofit organizations that object to covering birth control in employee health plans, a federal appeals court in Denver ruled Tuesday.

The case involves a group of Colorado nuns and four Christian colleges in Oklahoma.

Religious groups are already exempt from covering contraceptives. But the plaintiffs argued that the exemption doesn't go far enough because they must sign away the coverage to another party, making them feel complicit in providing the contraceptives.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. The judges wrote that the law with the exemption does not burden the exercise of religion.

"Although we recognize and respect the sincerity of plaintiffs' beliefs and arguments, we conclude the accommodation scheme ... does not substantially burden their religious exercise," the three-judge panel wrote.

The same court ruled in 2013 that for-profit companies can join the exempted religious organizations and not provide the contraceptives. The U.S. Supreme Court later agreed with the 10th Circuit in the case brought by the Hobby Lobby arts-and-crafts chain.

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