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Catholic senator earns victory in federal court against HHS mandate


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ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- A Missouri senator won't be forced to pay for health insurance that includes "religiously objectionable" medical services, according to a judgment issued in federal court.

Judge Jean C. Hamilton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri granted Republican state Sen. Paul Wieland and his family permanent protection from the federal Health and Human Services mandate that individuals, businesses and nonchurch entities must purchase health insurance coverage for contraceptives and sterilizations.

The case represents an unusual angle in which a family has earned a victory against the mandate, preserving their right to religious liberty, said lawyers from the Thomas More Society of Chicago. Special counsel Timothy and Matthew Belz of St. Louis-based Ottsen, Leggat & Belz also represented the family.

The court rejected the U.S. Justice Department's arguments that the Wielands suffered no substantial adverse burden from having to comply with the mandate.

"The ultimate impact is that the plaintiffs must either maintain a health insurance plan that includes contraceptive coverage, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs, or they can forgo health care altogether, which will result in the imposition of significant penalties (not to mention the potentially crippling costs of uninsured health care)," Hamilton wrote in her opinion July 21.

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