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Injunction extended while GuideStone awaits appeal

DALLAS (BP) — The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Aug. 21 it would keep in place the preliminary injunction won by GuideStone earlier at the District Court level while GuideStone appeals it case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The preliminary injunction, which protects certain ministries from having to provide abortion-causing drugs or devices in their health plan, or face crippling fines, was first issued by a federal judge in December 2013. Upon the government’s appeal, a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit of Appeals ruled 2-1 to end the injunction. GuideStone, along with co-plaintiffs Reaching Souls International, an Oklahoma-based missions-sending organization, and Truett-McConnell College, a Georgia Baptist institution, appealed the Tenth Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court in July.

Churches and integrated auxiliaries of churches, including GuideStone, are already exempt from the mandate and its penalties as religious employers. GuideStone’s current litigation was sought to protect other ministries it serves, such as children’s homes, colleges and other ministries not controlled by a church or association of churches, from the mandate and its penalties.

“What this means is for the next several weeks, the ministries affected by the mandate can continue to rest assured that they are at no risk of penalties,” said Harold R. Loftin Jr., general counsel for GuideStone.

“The decision by the Tenth Circuit will maintain the injunction until the Supreme Court determines whether to hear the case. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear the appeal, then the injunction would continue until the Supreme Court rules on the case next summer.”

A decision by the Supreme Court on whether to hear the appeal should be forthcoming this fall.

The case is GuideStone et al vs. Burwell.

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  • Timothy E. Head