Oral arguments to be heard in birth control coverage case

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A federal judge in California will hear oral arguments today in a case that could decide whether employers can refuse to provide certain health services that go against their religious beliefs.

Following a 2011 HHS mandate that required employers to provide certain health care — including birth control and emergency contraception — the Catholic nonprofit Little Sisters of the Poor sued in 2013 to be exempt from the rule, but five years and lengthy court battles later, the case is still ongoing.

New HHS rules created in 2017 allowed for religious exemptions for employers, including the group run by nuns, but 13 states and the District of Columbia sued to block the rules.

Two judges in January temporarily blocked the rules from going into effect, and today’s hearing will decide whether those injunctions will stay in place.

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