Catholics File Suit Over Healthcare Law’s Contraception Mandate

The Archdiocese of New York and other Catholic organizations have filed suit against the Obama administration over language in the Affordable Care Act that requires all employers to provide preventive health care to women.

By Elizabeth Vlock

The University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and other Catholic institutions have filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Treasury arguing that the mandate for religious employers to provide coverage for birth control, sterilization, and abortion services is unconstitutional and runs counter to deeply held religious beliefs.

The complaint filed Monday names HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as defendants.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) an employer must provide women access to preventative care. While the ACA says that, “nothing in this title shall be construed to require a qualified health plan to provide coverage for abortion services” the Archdiocese argued that Catholic beliefs are still being violated.

“HHS guidelines require insurers and group health plans to cover, ‘all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,’” reads the complaint. The Church is staunchly opposed to FDA approved drugs such as Plan B, also know as the morning after pill, which prevents an embryo from implanting in the womb.

The complaint alleges that the government mandate is a form of, “artificial interference with the creation of life… [that] is contrary to Catholic doctrine.” In a statement released Monday the New York Archdiocese argued that their First Amendment rights granted by the United States Constitution had come under fire since the federal government subjected the Church to, “unwarranted and unprecedented government intrusion.”

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