Judge: Pa. school can exclude some birth control

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A western Pennsylvania Christian college can temporarily exclude coverage for birth control like the morning-after pill and the week-after pill when it offers a health insurance plan to its employees, a federal judge ruled.

The ruling Monday echoes an earlier finding, also by U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti, that Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., can also exclude such coverage in a health plan it offers to students.

The preliminary injunctions remain in effect until the judge rules on the school’s underlying lawsuit challenging looming federal health care reforms, or until a higher appeals court rules on the issue.

Judge Conti’s 30-page memorandum opinion indicates she expects the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the underlying religious freedom issues next year, now that it has agreed to hear two similar cases, including one filed by Hobby Lobby. The Oklahoma City-based arts and craft chain has argued the contraceptive mandates of the Affordable Care Act violate the beliefs of the “biblically founded business.”

Geneva, a school about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh that is affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, argues certain types of birth control violate its religious beliefs against abortion.

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