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Judge delivers temporary ruling in favor of Domino's founder

The recently passed Affordable Care Act requires companies to provide reproductive health services and contraception to their employees. The act excludes religious bodies, like the Catholic Church, from this requirement, but does not specify whether ostensibly secular companies run by religious individuals should have to provide contraception when it violates their religious laws.

Thomas Monaghan, the billionaire founder of Domino's Pizza, argues that his business should be excluded in the act; exemptions have been temporarily awarded to church-run medical facilities and parochial schools. While he is a practicing Catholic who is deeply involved with the Church, Monaghan argues that contraception and abortion should not "be considered a form of medical treatment" as they destroy "innocent human life."

A Federal judge issued a temporary order in favor of Monaghan. While the business owner sold the majority of his stake in Domino's in 1998, he filed a petition on behalf of his Michigan property management company, Domino's Farm Corp., arguing that a provision in the recent health care reform bill would cause him to violate the tenets of his faith.

The judge delivered an order block enforcement of that section of the Affordable Care Act, finding that forcing Monaghan to provide free contraception to his workers would "substantially burden his exercise of religion." That decision will remain in effect until a federal court issues a formal ruling on the issue, though the Obama administration may appeal the order before then. A number of similar lawsuits are reportedly pending in lower courts. While Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer commented on the issue, it is unclear whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case if it reaches them.

Under the law, any employer with at least 50 employees that fails to offer insurance coverage for contraceptive care to female workers of "child-bearing age" can be hit with tax penalties and recurring fines.

Source: CNN, "Pizza magnate wins temporary ruling on contraception coverage dispute," Dec. 31, 2012

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