February 24th, 2012
11:21 AM ET

Seven states sue government over contraceptives mandate

By Tom Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Seven states on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the federal government requirement that religious employers offer health insurance coverage that includes contraceptives and other birth control services.

The issue has become a political flashpoint in a presidential election year, and the lawsuit by attorneys general from Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida and Texas was certain to keep it prominent.

Private plaintiffs joining the seven states included Pius X Catholic High School, Catholic Social Services, Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America and private citizens Stacy Molai and Sister Mary Catherine.

The 25-page lawsuit named the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; and the U.S. Department of Labor and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis as defendants.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Church and state

soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. daddylove

    EMPLOYERS SHOULD NOT BE PROVIDING HEALTH INSURANCE AT ALL. But because they are, and we're stuck with that for the moment, your employer should not make your health care decisions for you.

    I'm not sure what the ramifications would be if every employer could pick and choose what benefits are covered by their health insurance plan. After I get my gall bladder taken out, would I then discover that my employer belongs to a religion that has a special devotion to bile storage organs and thus has chosen not to cover cholecystectomies, leaving me with a $7,000 bill? What if my employer is a Christian Scientist? How responsible should individuals be for reading all of the fine print of every policy? A less facetious argument might surround Lipitor, the cholesterol-lowering medication, and its analogs, which many medical authorities feel are overprescribed and not without side effects every bit as problematic as hormonal medication. Should my employer have a say in whether my Lipitor is covered? Based on his/her religious beliefs? And how do we distinguish those with "genuine faith" (whatever that is–there are as many Biblical interpretations as there are interpreters) from tight-fisted cheapskates?

    The bottom line: Catholics have been paying and do now pay for birth control all the time by contributing tax support to Medicare and Medicaid. Why are they complaining now? In addition, insurance regulation historically requires coverage for any therapy that is determined to be safe and effective. Using the "safe and effective" standard, birth control (hormones, IUD's and sterilization) meet criteria as a reasonable intervention. Thus the federal mandate is reasonable and will survive court challenge.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  2. Godspeople

    Basically, the Government has no right to decree religious organizations offer contraception if it's against their beliefs. If O-b-o-n-g-o were actually an American Christian citizen instead of a Nigerian muslim terrorist, he would know our laws and appreciate them.

    February 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  3. josh

    all i have to say is that this mandate goes against the first amendment and this is our right to freedom of religion,free speech, and right to assembly. We should not have to go against our moral conscience.......

    February 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  4. Keith

    In a shocking case out of Pennsylvania, an American judge has thrown out an assault charge against a Muslim immigrant based on Sharia law.

    The assault victim was the head of the Pennsylvania chapter of American Atheists, Ernest Perce V, who was marching in a Halloween parade as “Zombie Mohammed” next to a fellow atheist dressed as “Zombie Pope.” The former depiction didn’t sit well with Muslim onlooker Talag Elbayomy, who then attacked Mr. Perce. And with an admission of guilt by the assailant and video of the incident, it should have been an open-and-shut case.

    But that’s not how it turned out.

    As Andrew McCarthy at National Review reports:

    Magistrate Judge Mark Martin, a veteran of the war in Iraq, ruled that Talag Elbayomy's sharia defense — what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed — trumped the First Amendment free speech rights of the victim.

    Yes, you read that correctly.

    Al Stefanelli of American Atheists provides some more information, writing:

    The defendant is an immigrant and claims he did not know his actions were illegal, or that it was legal in this country to represent Muhammad in any form. To add insult to injury, he also testified that his 9 year old son was present, and the man said he felt he needed to show his young son that he was willing to fight for his Prophet....

    The Judge not only ruled in favor of the defendant, but called Mr. Perce a name and told him that if he were in a Muslim country, he'd be put to death.

    I wonder, if Elbayomy had put Perce “to death” not knowing that such an action in response to an insult to Mohammed was illegal in America, would Judge Martin have thrown out the murder charge?

    Stefanelli also reports, “Judge Martin's comments included, ‘Having had the benefit of having spent over 2 and a half years in predominantly Muslim countries I think I know a little bit about the faith of Islam.’ ”

    I’m sure. But it appears Judge Martin knows only a little bit — at most — about American law. Perhaps he should consider the benefit of spending time in a Muslim country permanently.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Interesting. Now the Atheist could go and get support from the likes of the 700 club folks or from the more rabid folks over on FoxNews.com.

      This might get very interesting who will be on the Atheist side of this. I know I stand with the Atheist, even though he was stupid and ignorant, no one deserves a beat down for such.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Keith

      What it shows is that Sharia law, whether you like it or not, whether it is consti-tutional or not, is HERE. Thanks to cnn and others for promoting it. The law was broken. Justice was not served. I'm a Christian and I support the right of the atheist to do what he did. God gives us free will. If he wants to reject the forgiveness of sins and the grace of our Lord, he's free to do so, albeit to his detriment. I hope he'll reconsider. What I'm afraid of is the support the US is giving in the UN in terms of blashemy laws on an international scale. This is happening. If it continues, no one-atheists included, will be able to speak out against islam in the US. Therefore, this case is extremely relevant. Why does cnn refuse to report on it? This judge needs to be removed. Cnn ignores this because their "pet religion" is exposed for the ugly, horrible religion that it really is.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Good Grief .... two Christians taking the side of the Atheist who was beaten ...... I think we just messed up some radical Atheist entire week. 🙂

      February 27, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Godspeople

      throw the book at the muzzie. shouldn't be here anyway.

      February 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Keith

      Mark from Middle River, Amen, brother.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • daddylove

      Judge Martin is an Army reservist lieutenant colonel who has two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He dismissed a penny-ante case of a guy getting upset at another guy. It's not exactly Islam's Normandy landing.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • daddylove

      BTW, Martin dismissed the case for lack of evidence after Elbayomy testified that the confrontation was not physical. So what are we talking about again? Unclench a little.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

    amen! God Loves You!

    The Bible says, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life"

    The problem is that . . .

    2 All of us have done, said or thought things that are wrong. This is called sin, and our sins have separated us from God.

    The Bible says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God is perfect and holy, and our sins separate us from God forever. The Bible says “The wages of sin is death.”

    The good news is that, about 2,000 years ago,

    3 God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins.

    Jesus is the Son of God. He lived a sinless life and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

    Jesus rose from the dead and now He lives in heaven with God His Father. He offers us the gift of eternal life – of living forever with Him in heaven if we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me."

    God reaches out in love to you and wants you to be His child. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe on His name." You can choose to ask Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and come in to your life as your Lord and Savior.

    4 If you want to accept Christ as your Savior and turn from your sins, you can ask Him to be your Savior and Lord by praying a prayer like this:

    "Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. I want to serve you always."

    February 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • daddylove

      Good one. You're very funny.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  6. fernace

    Catholic (& other religous) leaders can lecture against, have a problem w/& make demands of contraceptives all they want..... In Church! When they run a business that employs people of various religions, they do Not have the "religious freedom" to impose their personal, religious views on their employees, in any capacity! It is Not "religious freedom" to deny insurance coverage, because of personal religious views! Especially when these religious leaders/employers have no problem w/paying to provide Viagara to male employees! This is blatant dis.crim.ination against womens rights & an attempt to control our bodies & actions! The most desp.icable part of this whole debacle, is that these men are hiding their misog.ynistic agenda behind their religions! Hypocritical Cowards!!

    February 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"When they run a business that employs people of various religions, they do Not have the "religious freedom" to impose their personal, religious views on their employees, in any capacity!"

      So is the business yours? Are the ones that work for you forced into working for you? It may not be a issue of Religious freedom. That would be if you denied employment because of someones belief or denied them advancement or maybe even a different rate of pay.

      Ask yourself .... does your employer have to even offer Health Care coverage. Many folks work for companies that do not even offer Heath Coverage at all... and there is not anything that the Government can do to force them to give their employees Insurance coverage.

      Check out the complaints against Wal Mart and not offering many of their employees Heath Coverage. If WalMart does not even provide "total" Health Coverage for all of their employees then where do you get the view that the Catholic Church should be forced to offer their employees a "part", Birth Control, along with their Full coverage?

      Think about it, there are women employees of companies such as WalMart, who are not even getting any form of Health Coverage but it is more of an issue for some, that the Catholic Church does not offer Birth Control.

      Why, aren't you and others going after WalMart with this same spirit.

      February 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Max

      There is no mandate to pay for Viagra so many insurance companies do not cover it.

      March 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  7. Diane Kuprewicz

    A lot of females have ovarian cysts and need to take birth control to cure them. So I think it is important that it is covered under health insurance.

    February 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Since, unless I missed it, your article did not mention numbers, as in the percentage of the female population.

      ... but from your same article:

      "Breast cancer risk may be slightly increased by the Pill for women with a family history of breast cancer. Women who have a personal history of breast cancer should not take the Pill. "

      Breast Cancer – New cases: 226,870
      Ovarian Cancer – New cases: 22,280
      Source: http://www.cancer.gov/

      If we go by your reasoning, the risk of women's cancer, ... shouldn't we ban Birth Control 🙂

      But, Diane can I ask your opinion of the study, last year, where research shows that there is a possible link between Birth Control and a rise in prostate cancer. If the following studies further validate the rise in male cancers due to Birth Control.... would you support a ban of Birth Control if it meant saving the lives of the sons, brothers, husbands and fathers of the world?


      February 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  8. Reality

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter.

    February 26, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  9. cregis

    I don't understand the problem. The Catholic Church tells its members not to use contraceptives. Won't they follow the church's orders and not make any claims? No claims made, no problem for the Church. Guess they could excommunicate those who do put in claims.

    February 26, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      The problem is that Catholic inst'itutions do not bar non-Catholics from employment. Since the inst'itution is Catholic based and birth control are frowned upon then they feel it would be going against the inst'itutions doctrine to cover Birth Control. The government wanted to force the church to go against their teachings and they rejected such.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Mark..What if the pope woke up tomorrow and said god had told him the collection of income tax is immoral, therefore any catholic organisation is no longer allowed to collect such funds or forward to the government. I think it behooves the CC to present the actual testimony from god out lining his opposition to contraception seeing as they have a direct line to the almighty and such. Teaching is one thing, facts are another.....

      February 26, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • GodsPeople

      Mark: In the US, it's actually illegal to refuse to hire someone for any reason other than being white. Meanwhile, of course, the government frowns on hiring white people.

      EvolvedDNA: He couldn't. The bible itself says to give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar (meaning pay your taxes), as well as to follow the laws of the land.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Income Tax … from a tax free exempt organization? I thought one of the main gripes, that some Atheist have is that the Churches do not pay taxes because they are a non-profit?

      Maybe if your example was of the exclusion of a race or maybe the Women in the ministry debate. Right now the birth control debate is closer to the government forcing a Islamic or Jewish college to permit students that “choose” to attend the school be allowed to have a pork barbecue in the student Union hall or quad.

      These employees choose to work for a organization that they are aware have an issue with Birth Control.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.