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Religious groups weigh in on Supreme Court's Obamacare ruling

Published: Thursday, June 28 2012 8:46 p.m. MDT

People wait on line for passes to enter the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 28, 2012.

David Goldman, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Religious groups praised and criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Thursday upholding a key provision of Obamacare, with some vowing to continue their fight against the health care law's requirement for employers to provide contraception coverage.

The Catholic Church, the most prominent and vocal faith to speak out against the health care act, has filed nearly two dozen lawsuits against the government over the law's contraception mandate. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the ruling doesn't change its position.

“The bishops want universal health care, but this doesn’t provide it. It’s flawed and needs fixing. We saw if you’re aborting children you’re certainly not giving them universal health care. That would be one idea,” Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the bishops’ conference, told the Washington Post.

Other Catholic groups opposed to the church's legal and publicity campaign against the Affordable Care Act praised the ruling.

"(The Catholic Health Association) has long supported health reform that expands access and coverage to everyone. We signed onto amicus briefs encouraging the court to find in favor of the ACA’s individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion," a CHA statement said.

The CHA is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities, employing more than 750,000 women and men.

A statement signed by 15 religious organizations representing Christian, Muslim and Buddhist faiths applauded the ruling and called on politicians and others to make the health care act work.

"We believe this ruling should be an authoritative end to all constitutional challenges," read the statement from Faithful Reform in Healthcare. "As of this ruling, the Affordable Care Act has been politicked and checked and balanced in every branch of government. It has passed. Now it is time for Congress to allow the benefits to reach the people."

But opponents said the ruling leaves opens their opportunities for legal challenges.

“The court’s opinion today did not decide the issues in our cases,” said Hannah Smith, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “We are challenging the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate on religious liberty grounds, which are not part of today’s decision. We will move forward seeking vindication of our client’s First Amendment rights.”

The Becket Fund is representing four Catholic affiliated organizations in lawsuits challenging the contraception mandate.

In the presidential race, a story on the Religion News Service website said the high court's narrow 5-4 ruling may provide the ammo religious conservatives need to propel GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney into the White House.

“You can take to the bank that the decision to uphold Obamacare will energize the Tea Party, evangelicals and the broader Republican base like we haven’t seen before. Yes, more than 2010,” said David Brody, chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. “The big winner on Thursday, June 28, 2012, is President Obama. The big winner on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 6, very well could be Mitt Romney.”

The RNS website has a roundup of reaction from faith groups and leaders from around the country.

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