Important Update: Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago Joins Lawsuit Against HHS. Read More.
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Catholic Institutions Sue U.S. Government Over Health Care

Posted on: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has joined other Catholic organizations that on Monday sued the Obama Administration over provisions of the new health care law that would require employers to offer contraception services in their health care plans, arguing the proposal violates First Amendment protection for religious freedom.

Proposed regulations offer exemptions for religious institutions, but Catholic plaintiffs argue the definition of religious organization in the new regulations is too narrow.

“We need to protect our constitutional right to freedom of religion. In this new mandate, this HHS ( Health and Human Services) mandate is a brand new definition of who we are. It’s an extreme definition. It’s a radical definition. It’s never been applied in federal legislation across the country before.

“And what it does is it simply marginalizes all of us, our schools our Catholic charities, our health care institutions, all of our social service ministry. It simply says none of that is religious.

“For us, here in the District of Columbia, what would that mean? We operate schools. We’ve been operating schools decades and decades, caring for some of the neediest children in this community, and we’ve been very successful in educating them. The vast majority of these kids in our center city schools are not Catholic.

“To be told we don’t count, they don’t count as religious, we don’t accept that. That’s why we’re going into court. Rather than have some sort of confusion as we move into the future, why don’t we get this settled in a very objective, dispassionate, nonpolitical forum? The courts exist for that and that’s why Americans turn to the courts. We have always turned to our courts as citizens of this great country when there has been some confusion, some challenge, some attack on our constitutional rights, so that’s why we have joined institutions all across America in saying this is un-American and we need to get it cleaned up,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington.

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About Preserve Religious Freedom

This lawsuit is about religious freedom and our ability to serve the public, not about contraception. The Church maintains that the First Amendment protects the Catholic Church's ability to serve the public in accordance with its faith and to operate its religious institutions without government interference. The argument challenges the way the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines what is, and is not, a religious institution. By including an exemption at all, the government apparently agrees that, in keeping with decades of practice and precedent, religious institutions should not be compelled to purchase drugs or procedures that violate deeply held religious or moral beliefs.

But, the Administration's HHS mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that religious schools, hospitals, and social services don't qualify as religious, and must therefore provide these drugs and procedures. This violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. It forces religious organizations to sacrifice their beliefs in order to be able to continue their mission of serving the public. Read more about the plaintiffs filing this lawsuit here.

Preserve Religious Freedom
c/o Archdiocese of Washington
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

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