Circuit court says Wheaton and Belmont Abbey lawsuits aren’t ready for a decision, but orders government to issue promised amendments to contraceptive mandate.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., only days after hearing Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College’s cases against the federal healthcare contraceptive mandate, issued an order saying the cases weren’t ready to be decided. But the court did not dismiss the cases, instead holding them in “abeyance.” (Download a PDF of the order.)

Meanwhile, the appeals court ordered the federal government to issue final changes to the mandate, as it has been promising to do for the last year. The mandate goes into effect for religious nonprofit organizations in 2013, and the government has promised it would publish an amended mandate in the “first quarter of 2013.” The mandate as it stands would require most religious groups to cover contraceptives, including abortifacients, for their employees.

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