Catholic groups sue over federal contraception mandate
The American Catholic bishops voiced support for the lawsuits filed Monday.
May 21st, 2012
01:03 PM ET

Catholic groups sue over federal contraception mandate

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - The University of Notre Dame and "a diverse group of plaintiffs" filed lawsuits Monday challenging the federal mandate that religious employers offer health insurance that includes coverage of contraceptives and birth control services, Notre Dame spokeswoman Shannon Chapla said.

The Notre Dame suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Northern Indiana, is one of a dozen filed Monday by 43 separate Catholic institutions in different federal courts around the United States, Chapla said.

The lawsuits are efforts to "vindicate the country's constitutional and traditional commitments to religious freedom and pluralism," Notre Dame law professor Richard W. Garnett said in a university statement.

The Catholic Church teaches that use of contraception is morally wrong.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuits Monday.

The Obama administration, in an attempt at a compromise, revised the rule to require health insurance companies - not employers - to provide contraception coverage, mollifying some Catholic critics. Other Catholic groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are not satisfied by the revised rule.

The suits contend that the regulations violate of the First Amendment guarantee of religious liberty, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other federal laws.

"This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives," Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins said in a message to his school. "For if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions."

The Archdiocese of Washington joined in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday. The plaintiffs also include Archbishop Carroll High School; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington; the Consortium of Catholic Academies of the Archdiocese of Washington; and The Catholic University of America.

"There is no way out of the dilemma the mandate forces upon us," Washington Archdiocese Chancellor Jane Belford said. "Catholic schools, universities, hospitals and social service ministries employ and serve millions of people in this country and do so without regard to their religious beliefs. Under the government's new rules, religious organizations will face an impossible choice."

–CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Health care • Politics

soundoff (556 Responses)
  1. PJ

    What a beautiful photograph. Looks like a whole group of obese Pippa Middletons . These old men are so silly. Contraception is here to stay and 99% of Catholic women use it. A majority also enjoy the right to choose what they do with their own body too!! The Church is so out of touch with reality.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • 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. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      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.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
      1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
      Followed by:
      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      May 22, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  2. Lucky18

    You want to hear the church shut-up?...Time for the church to pay taxes!

    May 22, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • Reality

      There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is and therefore all non-profits should file Form 990's. At the moment, religious groups are exempt. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. Faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  3. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Freedom of Religion
    freedom from religion.

    The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is attempting to establish Secular Humanism as the state religion.

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion"

    If you go to Dictionary.com and enter religion; you will find it described as a set of beliefs.

    Now go to SecularHumanism.org and see how many times they use belief in their doctrine statement,
    The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles

    We believe in enjoying life here and now
    We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair
    We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God. Psalm 14:1

    May 22, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • WASP

      @texas: i will say this nicely. you're an idiot. the government has always been secular, we haven't ever chosen a formal religion to identify this country. england has an identified religion that their government supports. we allow all americans to pick if they want to practice one, and if they choose not to so be it. the population can be religious, but the government has and always will be secular. we have protection of and from religion....none of you christian freaks can come to my house and try to force of your dogma on me or my children, so i'm protected by the law from freaks like you.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:46 am |
  4. Tom Hencke

    As a grad of Archbishop Carroll High School, I must say that I'm disgusted by them taking part in this lawsuit, but I'm sure the bishop told them they had to..
    As a fan of Notre Dame football, I must say other teams are looking far better these days.
    As a Catholic who grew up in the Vatican II years, I also must say that the 2012 version of the church makes me want to throw up.
    Fortunately, I have found most church members are far smarter than they leaders.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • Reality

      "Twenty-one states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage, usually for religious reasons, for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (administrative rule), Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia."

      May 22, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  5. W.G.

    You see that photo ? That´s what´s wrong with the Catholics. Men deciding women issues with no
    input from women . But they´ll protect one of their own if he molests a young Boy .

    May 22, 2012 at 6:42 am |
  6. Terry

    I truly love the fact that a group of pedophiles, or those who protect and harbor pedophiles, want to stop women who ask for birth control pills. Clearly, Catholic Priests see women as the productivity factories that produce new targets.

    May 22, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  7. Skip the Bible


    May 22, 2012 at 5:16 am |
  8. nc1965

    Look at that sea of middle aged to old white guys. Obviously the Catholic Church isn't very inclusive.

    Besides, for centuries Catholic Priest allowed alter boys to be slammed up the -a s s -. Why should be pay any attention to them? They are hypocritical.

    May 22, 2012 at 5:02 am |
  9. Joe Zamecki

    The Catholic Church is the largest and most successful pedophilia network. How any free society can allow them to file a lawsuit against anyone, for any reason, is insane. Every single one of those men in the photograph for this report should be locked up – for the good of humanity.

    May 22, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  10. Skip the Bible

    Seriously? More of this contraceptive stupidity?

    May 22, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  11. nolimits3333

    The Catholic Church is more concerned with preventing contraception, than preventing pedophillia.

    May 22, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  12. Kyle

    Notre Dame is not a church, it is a school. It is a business and the government has every right to regulate businesses.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Jimmy G.


      May 22, 2012 at 2:12 am |
    • ajk68

      There is a difference between freedom of religion and freedom of worship. What you are claiming is that only freedom of worship is protected. Freedom of religion extends outside the confines of church (Temple, etc.) walls. It is the freedom to act in accordance with one's principles in the public arena.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      ajk68, you are only partially correct.
      Your freedom of religion must not violate the rights of others. Do you agree?
      If so, then the problems start when a religious organization owns, finances, and manages a business that employs paid workers who are not members of that religion and /or who do not sign a contract giving up their rights as employees.
      If they were all unpaid volunteers working there, then there would be no problem.
      But they are not only employing non-members, they are gathering a nice profit as well as not having to pay taxes for some things and here they are fighting to avoid all business-related regulations and laws.
      They want a free hand, but they are not keeping it to themselves and the members of their religion, nor are they a non-profit corporation. They make good money, diddle around in people's lives and our politics and laws, and avoid paying taxes while bribing legislators to make illegal laws.
      And that's in addition to all the other things they do.
      They are a business. This is not someone living according to the Bible. The Bible says nothing on how to run a religious academy or any of the details like employment law. They see this as a loophole from which to violate the laws of this country.

      May 22, 2012 at 3:07 am |


    May 22, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • ajk68

      Probably because the colors on your screen need to be adjusted.

      The color is actually scarlet.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:56 am |



      May 22, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  14. Conqui

    @Wha - the Bible says no such thing, when translated accurately and not paraphrased, and when the verses to which you are referring are interpreted within their entire context. Mohler takes his references totally out of context, and deliberately lies by using really bad and outmoded translations apparently.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  15. Frank Airport

    looks like we have our first victim in the Democrats' War on Women:

    Catholic Mary Kennedy hanged herself.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • WASP

      @frank: sick guy really sick. bringing the death of a person into a debate is a truly low thing to do. your god must be proud of such a loving chrisitan.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  16. harveyjohnson

    I agree the Church should not allow contraceptions for women but we do need to cover up all the priest pedophiles.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • briawinde

      Of course..look at all those good catholic male priests...i agree with you 100%:) let us cover their sins..while making it difficult for women to do the right thing :)).

      May 22, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  17. Reality

    Some nitty-gritty:


    "Twenty-one states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage, usually for religious reasons, for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (administrative rule), Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia."



    The Catholic hierachy do not believe in artificial birth control so why do they employ those who do? Did not the Supreme Court recently decide that religious organizations have the right to decide who they hire and fire? Bottom line: To reduce health insurance costs and to not be subject to Obama care regulations about supplying contraceptives, Catholic groups should simply not hire those who want contraceptives and fire those who demand such coverage.


    Condoms are available over the counter. Make the Pill (type dependent on prior doctor's evaluation as to hormone level, etc.) available over the counter and there will be no more debate. Planned Parenthood can offer deep discounts for those who say they cannot afford said protection.

    Or better yet, put a pack of condoms in cereal boxes.(and maybe Pills?) Unfortunately, that would not ensure the condoms and/or Pills would be used. Based on Guttmacher Insti-tute data, said condoms and/or Pills are currently not being used as they should. (one million abortions/yr and 19 million cases of S-TDs/yr because either the daily Pill was not taken or a condom stayed in the pocket.)

    Condom-fitted briefs for men?? Hmmm? 🙂 🙂 😉

    The door is open for other ideas!!!

    May 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • briawinde

      Smiles..contraceptives for women are very expensive and the right wingers as well as Catholics want to get rid of Planned parenthood..which has supplied women's birth control... and continues to do so..for the poor and lower middle class. Condoms should be used widely...but most men are too "manly" for that. You tell them ...good luck though.

      Please note..that Viagra...is covered.under the new bill.and no one is arguing about that including ..catholic priests. But then again..it is at all possible that they use this drug? Heaven knows..many of them don't take their vows of celibacy seriously..especially when it comes to young boys under their control. So sorry if most of the decent people in the world today will not and can not take the catholic church seriously..including over 90% of their own flock.

      Lets repeat, over 90% of Catholics do not agree with the churches stance regarding birth control. Coming from a business background that would indicate they have very few competent individuals to work for them. AND..that is a good thing :)). Good luck on pushing condoms..although that is what responsible men would do, it is not common by any means.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      A vasectomy will always pay for itself very quickly. Condoms are expensive and uncomfortable. Women have all sorts of nonsense they can buy and fiddle with, but all that pales in comparison with the fact that there are too many people who should never be allowed to have children or be around children – including the guys dressed in pink in the picture there.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  18. Reason Together

    Good for the Catholic Bishops. This is a religious freedom issue. Why are not more people upset that unelected KAthleen Sabelius can have the power to tell a religious organization that they are in fact religious. This is a religious freedom issue and the President is wrong and way off base to pick an unnecessary fight with the Catholic Church. Had he been willing to cooperate and truly work out an agreeable compromise, he may have turned potential foes into friends, now he has real foes. What a shame and a big waste of time and resources. Everybody knows that contraception is readily available, why force a group to purchase it for others. There are so many true health care issues that need to be addressed and we are wasting on our time, talent and legal resources on this. Give me a break.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Why, because people like you are idiots.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      This isn't a religious freedom issue at all. Maybe you should read up on how the law actually works and who it actually affects.
      It doesn't force these pedos to pay for contraception at all. This is all a bunch of smoke and mirrors to hide the real issues being fought here: health care for the working poor and how these scammers want to avoid all employment laws that protect people who work for them. This is about money, not religious freedom.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  19. BADGUY

    Providing contraception coverage is a "civil" issue...NOT a religious one. One could argue that paying the "employer" share of social security is ALSO against Catholic teachings because the money could be BETTER used, feeding the poor or supporting a charity. If ALL employers are required to pay for contraception, making the Catholic Church pay for it is NOT an anti-religious mandate. It's time the Catholic Church accepts the fact: it must "Give to Cesar, what is Cesar's".

    May 21, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  20. Gary

    The hardline Islamists are ecstatic. The Catholic Church and the right wing Protestants are laying the groundwork so Muslim law and prohibitions will be protected in this country. Once again we shoot ourselves in the foot.
    All of these churches should have to give up their tax exempt status anytime the try to manipulate our government.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • ajk68

      There is no attempt to manipulate the government. These organizations are trying to use legal means at their disposal to get what they seek. This is not manipulation. It is litigation.

      However, I would guess your issue lies deeper. You are confusing "freedom of worship" for "freedom of religion." Freedom of worship says you can conducts the rites of your religion in your church building (temple, etc.). Freedom of religion is the freedom to act on one's beliefs in the public arena. Freedom of worship is being used to deflect the argument by redefining it. The position is being advanced that people have the right to do what they want in private, but their beliefs shouldn't be allowed to affect the public sphere. This is not freedom of religion!

      Freedom of religion does not lay the groundwork for Sharia. In fact, it does just the opposite. Freedom of religion allows for people to bring their religious beliefs to the public square – Sharia would take this voice away. So it is this "freedom of worship" that actually moves us toward a situation where Sharia (or state run atheism, or whatever) is the only allowed form of public religious expression.

      May 22, 2012 at 3:08 am |
    • Jimmy G.

      ajk68, atheism is merely the lack of a belief in a god or gods. It is not an ideology despite having the "ism" at the end of the word.
      You are clearly missing the part of the First Amendment where it states: Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion.

      How clear does it need to be before you see that religious laws and values have no place in our secular laws?
      Your religious laws are "spiritual" and thus should remain within your religion and your private observation, worship, and expression of your religion.
      I'm not saying you can't preach on the streetcorner, I'm saying you can't make a law where the only purpose is to enshrine your religious beliefs into the public square and the lives of everyone who worships differently from you.
      Read the First Amendment and especially read the part of the Const'tution where it says the Const'tution is the Supreme Law of the Land.
      This means your religion has no place in our laws, for you cannot shove your religion into legislation without violating the First Amendment, and you are legally required to keep your religion from violating the rights of others, hence the ban on legislating your personal morality into law.
      We already have plenty of laws that violate the First Amendment. They need to be struck down instead of adding more illegal laws to the books.
      But the Supreme Court is now corrupted worse than ever before. The Catholic-dominated SCOTUS is violating the Const'tution and has lost all credibility. Illegal laws are shoved into play almost regularly now with all the corruption that is religious in nature, funding, agenda, and stated goals.

      There is so little that is left to be done for Muslims to do, that Gary is correct. Christian treason is destroying our religious freedoms. Christian goals of making this a theocracy is paving the way for any religion to take over the country and destroy all freedoms and rights in the name of some single religion.
      We had religious freedom. It is the Christian Taliban that is destroying your religious freedoms here. Go bark at them.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:07 am |
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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.