Catholic institutions sue Obama administration over contraception

The latest development affecting insurers is a series of lawsuits filed against the Obama administration, claiming an attack on religious liberty.

The University of Notre Dame, Catholic University of America and archdioceses serving Dallas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., sued the Obama administration in federal courts Monday, alleging that the reform law's requirement that employers provide contraception coverage for their workers is contrary to their religious beliefs, reported The New York Times.

Although the question of whether insurers will be required to pay for contraception coverage when their members work for religiously affiliated organizations remains unanswered, the lawsuits are a clear indication that the Catholic organizations have rejected the White House's compromise. After originally requiring religious-based employers to provide free coverage for birth control, the Obama administration adjusted its position, instead requiring that insurers provide contraceptives directly to members if their employers object. This prevented religious-affiliated institutions from covering contraception within the health plans they offer their employees, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

However, Catholic leaders say the White House's proposal is unrealistic because it would be difficult to keep religious employers' dollars from subsidizing any insurance coverage of contraception, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins said in a statement that the religious university decided to sue because "progress has not been encouraging" in talks with Obama administration officials, reported the Associated Press. "We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others," Jenkins said. "We simply ask that the government not impose its values on the university when those values conflict with our religious teachings."

To learn more:
- see the New York Times article
- check out the Wall Street Journal article
- read the Associated Press article

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