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. Carol

    Perhaps you've heard of Henry VIII and England???

    May 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • BoBBy

      Yes i've heard, so? You suggesting Henry won? Pfff ppppplease

      May 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Well lets see, who got what they wanted, Henry or the church?

      May 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  2. BoBBY

    say all you like, NO Empire, civilization, country, society, Organization or Government has ever triumphed over Holy Mother Catholic Church, EVER, and NO ONE ever will.
    Obama is just a little hiccup that we are going to have to deal with, period.

    May 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Answer

      Time conquers all.

      May 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      I did,

      I quit the church....WINNER!

      May 22, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      I think that is exactly the same thing the priests for Zeus said, once upon a time... EVERYTHING ends, especially ignorance, thankfully....

      May 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • BoBBy

      Nope, nothing will triumph over the church, read it again, NOTHING, we've been doing it for 2000 years and counting, not the roman empire nor the communists nor anyone that has existed or will come, and certainly not obama, will defeat her, sure, you might win minor battles here and there, temporarily, but the church will remain till the end of time and beyond.
      So, you think you win cause you left the church? Think again.

      May 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      I did think, something the church does not want, it wants mindless followers, that why they call them sheep. Reason is the antidote to the religious poison. The church is losing followers, preists, nuns. It is a morally bankrupt organisation.

      May 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
  3. Regressive

    The church has not been very succesful convincing their own parishiners that they shouldn't use birth control, so they have to find some way of appearing that they have some influence over people.

    May 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  4. Frogman

    The Roman church sees itself as having an innate right to limit the religious freedoms of its employees if the employees exercise of their religious freedoms conflict with the church's teachings.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Karen

      How is that remotely the case. When you signed your employment agreement did you or did you not agree to your compensation package? Did it in any way force you to alter what you believe or how you live? This is simpy a compensation package the government is dictating must change. There is a party that is dictating to others and it is not the church but you would not want to see it that way so ignore what I said- you may not understand it.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Tom


      Compensation packages are regulated by law in our country. Wages are subject to the minimum wage laws. Insurance benefits are regulated by each state's Insurance Commissioner. And emploee/employer agreements should not violate either of these. Unless of course, you also believe it is ok for some employers to hire illegal aliens. Perhaps that is why we have such an immigration issue.

      The Catholic Church is not, nor should it be exempt. Leave religion to the church, and leave secular matters such as compensation to government regulation.

      As it was in the beginning, is now – and shall be forever more. So help me POTUS! >;-)

      May 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Nothing new,

      The church has been stiffling religious freedomsfor hundreds of years, they just arne't allowed to do it as much......and now they have turned the issue to say THEIR religious freedom is being infringed on.

      Oh the irony..

      May 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  5. Gerald

    Go IRISH!

    May 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Rockerbabe

    So the catholic church wants to discriminate against women in terms of benefits offered to women employees and women customers who come for services. Well, let them! Just do not allow them to do this discrimination with GOVERNMENT MONEY. The catholic church should be banned from receiving government backed tuitions loans, social service program funding and should also be banned from providing services that seek reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaide. If they refuse to respect the law that requires equal treament in the workplace, then just do not give them government or taxpayer money. Let them do their discrimination with private money and all will be well?

    May 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Cathy

      If the government picked up all the services provided for others by the Catholic church...LOL...society as we know it would be changed becaseu the government would NOT pick it up and fill in the gap. You think government is the GOOD GUY. Which government in history has NOT been revolted against nor spilled blood to preserve itself?

      May 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Frogman

      Good idea

      May 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  7. Rockerbabe

    So the catholic church wants to continue to discriminate against women in terms of benefits for their employees and services they provide for women. Well, let them! Of course, they SHOULD NOT RECEIVE GOVERNMENT MONEY

    May 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  8. mms55

    i hate too tell them this but it is going to back fire on them.you can't discreminate agains't peoples rights if your excepting public funds.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  9. Carol

    If the Catholic organizations can't comply with the law regarding health care benefits, then they should pay the fine & move on. If they want to write public policy then they should give up their tax exempt status. Just because the Catholic Church doesn't progress based on new knowledge doesn't mean that the rest of society should also remain in the dark ages.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Karen

      If we allow government inside the church then we should allow the church inside our government and schools. Fair compromise I would go along with.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  10. 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 12:47 pm |
  11. Jonathan

    I bet if we gave VD to a couple alter boys that condom use would suddenly be ok with all these priests.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Reality

      The reality of se-x, contraception and STD control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

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

      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 12:49 pm |
    • Cathy

      Reality, you confuse a good old emotional argument/opinion with helpful facts. How dare you!

      May 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  12. Bumpin Uglies

    No more contraception, it takes away all the feeling. Practice pulling out!!

    May 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Karen

      Hey, that takes self control and it also is not a burden on society. What fun is that. I want my personal stuff to affect the public- I want what happens in my bed room to end up in a doctors office- now that's REAL intmacy. Every guy who wants me should read the small tattoo print on my stomach- which commences: "If you fail to pull out you agree to following..." The weak ones run away ....wimpering.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Bumpin Uglies, contraceptives are not limited to condoms and they aren't only for birth control.

      May 23, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  13. Bob

    I don't like chicken, so no one else should have any chicken either. I hired some chicken eaters at my company and have banned it from being allowed in my store. Me deciding to not eat chicken on my own is not an option. This is about freedom.....for me.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Frank Connell

      You can eat chicken. You can make a whole bunch of chicken and eat it up and roll around in it and share it with your chicken loving friends. My opinion of chicken should have nothing to do with whether or not you get chicken.

      However, me and my vegetarian club will not give you chicken, and we certainly won't be paying for your chicken. This goes for all of the schools, hospitals and charities my vegetarian club runs. If you don't like that, go get a job at a non-vegetarian workplace.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Cathy

      Well Bob, I can see you do not understand the argument. Switch to pork.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  14. Julie Deckert

    I wish society would start realising that matters of this nature cannot be controlled by laws . It is up to the Church and the parents to cultivate a sense of responsibility for the choices we make. No law will solve the issuei

    May 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Cathy

      Our government once knew that. Then it took a small step into this area on non-government control and is mired and stuck in it and we have since stopped worrying about maintaining a solid government and ploicies for quibbling over personal stuff that has no answer becaseu it is a personal issue. Thanks for some sanity.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  15. Tom

    When religious groups (Catholic or not) provide insurance for members and/or employees, they are no longer practicing RELIGION. They are practicing INSURANCE. And they must comply with laws that regulate insurance providers.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • JC

      Amen.... oh sorry, I mean That's right!

      May 22, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Cathy

      No, they are including a benefit as part of their compensation package which an employee understands at the time of hire. It was deemed acceptable by the employee at the time of hire. So, what has changed? Oooops...an outside party called the government stating that agreement is not acceptable to the government. Gee, Tom, is that how you want your government to act? It may sound good now but those same powers can be used by a government that may someday want to take something away too. Hmmmmm

      May 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Tom

      >>deemed acceptable<< has no relevance here.

      Wages are subject to minimum wage laws. Insurance benefits are regulated by each state's insurance commissioner.

      And yes Cathy, that is precisely how I want my government to act. As an agent that protects citizens from the whims and the discrimination imposed by religious zealots. Particularly in matters that do not involve the practice of religion.

      May 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  16. Libs Are A Disease

    Sue them for all they've got. Then maybe the liberals will think twice about forcing their liberal agenda onto religious organizations. What's next, forcing churches to hire gay priests? Forcing churches to recognize gay marriage?

    May 22, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • JC

      Hey St. Agustin.... maybe religious groups shouldn't be in the business of health care... we promise to stay out of the churches if you promise to stay out of public policies with your hate filled fairy tales. And take Intelligent Design with you.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Tom

      >> What's next, forcing churches to hire gay priests? <<

      Too late. Those jobs have already been filled by pedophiles!

      May 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  17. Colin

    I long for the day when this rancid, corrupt, self-interested organization, run by $exually questionable old men, is a thing of the past. We are getting there, slowly but surely.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Bobby

      Agreed. This is a vile and corrupt organization. In 2011 the BBC did a piece about the Catholic Church in Spain. How over the course of the years they had kidnapped over 300,000 babies and sold them for substantial amounts of money. There is no reason for a religious organization to be tax exempt. The US Govt and the UN should break all ties with the Vatican and Italy should annex the Vatican as Mussolini was a corrupt dictator and therefore had no legal authority to make the vatican its own city state.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Karen

      You obviously don't care to think of the accuracy or legitimacy of your statements. No sense in discussing something that is purely emotional and not cognitive in nature. Good luck finding what you are looking for Colin.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      It's only been 2000 years, how much slower do you want to get?

      May 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  18. McShannon

    NO different than Baptist Franklin Graham using his tax exempt status to run hundreds of TV ads to promote a political issue namely amendment one in NC. These people are arrogant bigots and hypocrites.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  19. McShannon

    The Catholic Church is no different than Baptist Franklin Graham using his tax exempt status to run hundreds of TV ads to promote a political issue namely amendment one in NC. These people are arrogant bigots and hypocrites.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • SouthernCelt

      Looks to me like you are the arrogant bigot. Why do you get Freedom of Speech but people of Faith do not?

      May 22, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  20. seedenbetter

    If only the RCC veiwed the raping children as equally important of an issue. Disgusting. I remain constantly incredulous as to how they maintain the hold on their deluded sheep.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Steve

      It is a mystery...not sure how people can be so hypocritical and backwards believing a book is real even though it reads as Aesops Fables with people.

      Religion isnt about salvation or peace, its about absolute control over a group of people.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Cathy

      Hey Steve, you just defined government too. Now, here's the cool thing, I can walk away from religion and there is nothing they can do about it. And then I walk back in if I so desire. But government...gee, every male between the age of 18 and 26 must report every moe they ake to the selective service or be prosecuted. Just an example of governments reach. Now, if you choose to view religion in the way you do, that is acceptable. I see it as something else as do many other people. As is true of all things- life is a lot more complicated than it seems. Thhousands of years have passed and we know more things- the Bible was not written for us today and so one should look more at the message. Then you may be a fundamentalist? I do not know. Good luck bud. I struggle with this stuff too.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Regressive

      Amen to that seedenbetter
      Amen to that Steve

      May 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
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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.