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GASTONIA, NC (AP) — A Roman Catholic college in Gaston County says it’s happy with a ruling by a federal appeals court on its challenge of rules that could require the school to provide free contraceptives to employees.

Belmont Abbey College President William Thierfelder says Tuesday’s decision is an early Christmas present.

Belmont Abbey sued the federal government over the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers must provide free contraceptives in their employee insurance plans.

A three-judge U.S. District Court panel in Washington, D.C., has ordered the federal government to re-write the law so it does not force religious institutions to offer contraceptives.

The challenge said the law would require the school to act contrary to church teachings.

The court gave the government until March 31 to develop new rules for religious organizations.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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