Catholic Church sues Obama administration
A dozen lawsuits were filed today in federal district courts around the country by 43 Roman Catholic institutions, including the Archdiocese of New York and Notre Dame University. The lawsuits challenge the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s mandate that, as part of ObamaCare, employers provide health insurance coverage, at no cost to the employee, for “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” This would include not only normal contraceptives but sterilization and abortion inducing drugs, such as the morning-after pill (aka Plan B) which acts to prevent an embryo from implanting in the womb, and Ulipristal (aka HRP 2000 or “ella”) which likewise can induce an abortion.
This lawsuit is about one of America’s most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have a right to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. Those services are freely available in the United States, and nothing prevents the Government itself from making them more widely available. Here, however, the Government seeks to require Plaintiffs—all Catholic entities—to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by providing, paying for, and/or facilitating access to those products and services. American history and tradition, embodied in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), safeguard religious entities from such overbearing and oppressive governmental action. Plaintiffs therefore seek relief in this Court to protect this most fundamental of American rights.
So reads the opening paragraph of the complaint. The Catholic plaintiffs allege that religious accommodations by the Obama administration are insufficient to protect their First Amendment rights. The “religious employers” exemption applies only to employers who can convince the Government that:
● “The inculcation of religious values is the purpose of the organization”;
● “The organization primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization”;
● “The organization primarily serves persons who share the religious tenets of the organization”; and
● “The organization is a nonprofit organization as described in section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.”
Many of the Catholic plaintiffs fall outside this definition, as their purpose is not the “inculcation of religious values” but helping the poor, providing healthcare, or providing an education. Moreover, the Catholic entities require neither the recipients of the services nor the employees who provide them to be Catholic or to “share the religious tenets” of the Roman Catholic Church. Another accommodation of the Obama administration is that the mandate’s effective date will be postponed one year. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, one of the leading plaintiffs, quipped that the Government had given religious employers “a year to figure out how to violate [their] consciences.” The Obama administration also offered a work-around whereby the onus of providing “Women’s Preventative Care” would be placed on the insurer rather than on the religious employer, with the stipulation that the insurer provide the coverage “free of charge.” The Catholic plaintiffs allege that insurers cannot provide coverage free of charge, and that the costs will be passed on one way or another.
You can read the complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York here.
The following sources were used in this post:
* The complaint filed in the EDNY which is linked above.
* The Archdiocese of New York press release.
* Catholic Online article on the filing of the lawsuits.
* Fox News article.