Oklahoma federal judge grants health care injunction for Catholic businesses

A federal judge in Oklahoma City has granted an injunction to nearly 200 Catholic employers to temporarily prevent the federal government from enforcing the health care law provision requiring insurance coverage for contraceptives.U.S. District Judge David Russell granted the injunction Wednesday to the Catholic Benefits Association, which includes archdioceses, an insurance company and a nursing home. The group filed a lawsuit in March that alleged the mandate forced them to violate religious objections to contraception and abortion-inducing drugs.Russell also ruled that employers and the almost 2,000 Catholic parishes that are members of the association will not have to pay penalties and fines for not complying with the contraceptive mandate.An attorney for the U.S. government, Bradley P. Humphreys, declined to comment Thursday on the judge's ruling.After the ruling, Oklahoma City Archbihop Paul S. Coakley said he was "heartened by the ruling"."Judge Russell was right to recognize that the Catholic employers of the Catholic Benefits Association have a right to allow their faith to inform not just their private beliefs, but also their public actions," Archbishop Coakley said. He also said the administration had been discriminatry to grant relief to some Catholic employers based on how they were operated."Whether bishops or businessmen, Catholics cannot in good conscience provide employees with insurance that covers drugs and procedures that undermine the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life."Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.