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Federal appeals court upholds health care law contraception mandate

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Thursday rejected [opinion, PDF] claims by Eden Foods, Inc. [corporate website] that it should be exempt on religious grounds from the contraception mandate [NWLC backgrounder] of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) [official website; JURIST backgrounder]. Eden Foods and its president, Michael Potter, contended that offering contraceptive services to the employees of the company would substantially burden the religious beliefs of the company and would contravene the protections afforded them under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [text]. The court, citing its earlier decision in Autocam Corp. v. Sebelius [opinion, PDF], held that Eden Foods, "a secular, for-profit corporation, cannot establish that it can exercise religion, and that Potter cannot establish his standing to challenge obligations placed only upon the corporation, not upon him as an individual." The decision upheld the district court's denial of Eden Foods' motion for a preliminary injunction.

The PPACA has been subject to various challenges. Earlier this week a federal judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] declined [JURIST report] to issue a preliminary injunction against the insurance subsidies provision of the PPACA. Also this week Hobby Lobby [corporate website] filed a brief [JURIST report] urging the US Supreme Court to review its case regarding the constitutionality of the PPACA birth-control mandate. In July the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] Congress' authority to require larger employers to provide adequate health insurance for their employees or pay a fine. Liberty University had brought the challenge and the US Supreme Court remanded [JURIST report] the case to the Fourth Circuit that in turn determined that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted. In June 2012 the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the PPACA does not violate the constitution in a case that focused on the "individual mandate" provision of the act, which requires every person, with some exceptions for religious and other reasons, to purchase some form of health insurance by January 1, 2014, or be subject to a fee equal to either a percent of that individual's income or flat rate of $695.

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