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July 7, 2014

Local Catholics look to Supreme Court contraception ruling for hope

BEAUMONT — The Catholic Diocese of Beaumont and Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas may soon see some movement in their pending litigation against providing healthcare that includes women's contraceptives.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, Monday, that certain corporations can choose not to cover women’s contraceptives based on religious beliefs.

The 5-4 decision marks the first time that the justices have ruled that closely-held, for-profit corporations — those under control of a few people in which there is no essential difference between the business and its owners — can hold religious views under federal law.

In the wake of the justices’ controversial decision, the Diocese and Catholic Charities are finding hope that their case — awaiting a decision from the U.S. Circuit of Appeals — may seem some action.

“The court made a narrow ruling and clearly did not decide on the impact to our charities, hospitals and schools, so many of which have challenged the government’s requirement as a burden on the exercise of their religious freedom,” Beaumont Bishop Curtis Guillory said in a release, Monday. “We will continue to pray that these ministries of service will prevail in their cases. I am asking those of other faiths to join us as together we work for the upholding of religious freedom.”

The Diocese and Catholic Charities filed for an injunction against the preventative services mandate of the Affordable Care Act in December 2013.

The Catholic entities did not wish to provide employees health insurance that includes contraceptives and “drugs considered to abortifacients” — drugs that induce abortions.

An injunction against the mandate was granted by Judge Ron Clark in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division, on Dec. 31, 2013. However, the federal government appealed Clark's ruling.

Karen Gillam, Diocese associate director, said that the Diocese and Catholic Charities have since been consolidated with other Catholic entities and are awaiting the verdict from a U.S. District Court of Appeals. Gillam said the Diocese has received no timeline of when to expect an answer.

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