(Reuters) - A divided federal appeals court has temporarily barred the U.S. government from requiring an Illinois company to obtain insurance coverage for contraceptives, as mandated under the 2010 healthcare overhaul, after the owners objected on religious grounds.
More than 40 lawsuits are challenging a requirement in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires most for-profit companies to offer workers insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices and other birth control methods.
Friday's 2-1 order by a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in favor of Cyril and Jane Korte was the second by a federal appeals court to temporarily halt enforcement against people who said it violated their faith, said Edward White, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic couple.
The 7th Circuit suggested that the couple's legal challenge might eventually prevail.
Its order came two days after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined to block the provision's enforcement against companies controlled by the family of Oklahoma City billionaire David Green.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which had defended the contraceptives provision, did not immediately respond on Saturday to a request for comment.
The Kortes, who own the construction firm Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, had sought to drop a health insurance plan for 20 non-unionized workers that included coverage for contraception, and substitute a different plan consistent with their faith.
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