White House: Religious concerns are addressed in contraceptive mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says it's confident that the rules requiring free contraceptive coverage under the new health law also address the objections of religious organizations.

The statement comes a day after Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked the contraceptive requirement from taking effect at the request of an organization of Catholic nuns in Denver.

Government officials now have until 10 a.m., Eastern time, on Friday to respond to the order. A decision on whether to make the temporary injunction permanent or dissolve it will probably not be made before then.

Under the health care law, most insurance plans have to cover contraceptives as preventive care for women. That means the coverage is provided free of charge. Churches are exempt, but affiliated institutions that serve the general public are not.

An outcry from religious groups led the administration to craft a compromise. Insurers or health plan administrators must provide the coverage, and the religious institution itself isn't responsible. But that didn't satisfy some critics. And Catholic-affiliated groups from around the nation went to court in hopes of delaying the requirements.

At least one federal appeals court issued its own stay.

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174-w-39-(Diane Kepley, AP correspondent, with attorney Mark Rienzi, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty)--Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has delayed part of the Affordable Care Act -- a delay welcomed by a religious group that challenged the measure. AP correspondent Diane Kepley reports. (1 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *174 (01/01/14)££ 00:39

177-a-13-(Mark Rienzi, attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver, in AP interview)-"the elderly poor"-Attorney Mark Rienzi says without Justice Sotomayor's action, the nuns would have been in a difficult position. ((longer version of cut in wrap)) (1 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *177 (01/01/14)££ 00:13 "the elderly poor"

176-a-16-(Mark Rienzi, attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, representing the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver, in AP interview)-"and abortion-inducing drugs"-Attorney Mark Rienzi says the nuns generally support the Affordable Care Act -- just not these provisions. (1 Jan 2014)

<<CUT *176 (01/01/14)££ 00:16 "and abortion-inducing drugs"

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