OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Hobby Lobby Inc. was given a temporary exemption Friday from a regulation tied to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
The regulation, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requires employers that offer insurance coverage to provide a preventive services benefits package that includes coverage for the morning-after pill and similar emergency birth control methods.
Employers that fail to meet HHS PPACA preventive services package requirements could face steep fines.
U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued the preliminary injunction for the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain. He stayed the case until Oct. 1 to give the federal government time to consider filing an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
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The ruling was welcomed by the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby and its sister company, the Mardel Christian bookstore chain. Attorneys for the Green family have argued that their religious beliefs are so deeply rooted that having to provide every form of birth control would violate their conscience.
“We’re just very excited. This is a great step for us,” Hobby Lobby president Steve Green said.
Members of the Green family say they believe life begins at conception, and oppose birth control methods that can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, such as an intrauterine device or forms of emergency contraception.
The company offers 16 other forms of birth control mentioned in the federal health care law in its health insurance plans.