Important Update: Washington Post: Catholic University's lawsuit against the federal government is a matter of religious liberty. Read More.
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Catholic Organizations Across the Country File Suit Against Contraception Mandate

Monday, May 21st, 2012FOX News

Some of the most influential Catholic institutions in the country filed suit against the Obama administration Monday over the so-called contraception mandate, in one of the biggest coordinated legal challenges to the rule to date.

Claiming their “fundamental rights hang in the balance,” a total of 43 plaintiffs filed a dozen separate federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the requirement. Among the organizations filing were the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and The Catholic University of America.

The groups are objecting to the requirement from the federal health care overhaul that employers provide access to contraceptive care. The Obama administration several months ago softened its position on the mandate, but some religious organizations complained the administration did not go far enough to ensure the rule would not compel them to violate their religious beliefs.

A statement from the University of Notre Dame said the requirement would still call on religious-affiliated groups to “facilitate” coverage “for services that violate the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

“The federal mandate requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching,” the statement said.

Rev. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, said in a message to the campus that the filing “is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives.”

The contraception rule does include an exemption for religious organizations — but that exemption does not cover many religious-affiliated organizations like schools and charities. Complaints about the narrowly tailored exemption prompted a stand-off between the Obama administration and religious groups earlier this year. As a compromise, the administration said insurers — and not the religious-affiliated organizations themselves — could be required to offer contraceptive coverage directly.

But many organizations were not satisfied with the plan. John Garvey, president of Catholic University, said in a statement Monday that “such a revision would not solve our moral dilemma.” He argued that the cost of contraceptive coverage would still be “rolled into the cost” of a university insurance policy.

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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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