In an apparent set-up for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis has rejected the Obama administration's attempt to work around employer objections to the birth control mandate.

The court ruled Thursday that four Christian nonprofits should not have to comply with the controversial Obamacare mandate.

Under terms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employers who offer coverage to employees must cover certain "essential" conditions. Among them: birth control for women. The requirement led to multiple legal challenges from employers that cited their religious beliefs as a reason for refusing to pay for such coverage.

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