By Mary Bubala

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A legal setback in the fight over Obamacare. A group of Catholic nuns based here in Maryland just learned it will likely have to provide contraceptives to employees.

Mary Bubala reports a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver learned the Little Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville must comply with the healthcare mandate.

For more than a century, the Little Sisters of the Poor has cared for the elderly. The US headquarters of the Global Catholic Order is based in Catonsville—but people across the nation took notice when a Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday they must comply with an Obamacare mandate that requires them to subsidize contraceptives and some abortion services for employees or face steep fines from the IRS.

“They are disappointed that the 10th Circuit chose to perpetuate the government’s discrimination against them and to second guess their religious beliefs but they are not giving up,” said Daniel Blomberg, Becket Fund.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in Washington DC is representing the Little Sisters of the Poor. They might appeal to the US Supreme Court, arguing the Obamacare mandate violates their first amendment rights.

The Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic non-profits and colleges are not part of an exemption added in 2013. Churches and religious organizations do not have to provide contraceptive coverage.

Little Sisters of the Poor would have to fill out a form claiming their objection but their healthcare provider would still have to cover contraceptives. Instead, they want their employees to opt out of coverage and go to a government healthcare exchange.

“The federal government now has healthcare exchanges all across this country and by law the Little Sisters employees are eligible to go there today and get the contraceptive services,” said Blomberg.

The Little Sisters of the Poor has 45 days to decide what to do next. There are currently five similar groups that have filed petitions with the US Supreme Court.

If they defy the court’s decision, they could face millions of dollars in fines each year.

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