Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2013 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic organizations in Washington, D.C., and Thomas Aquinas College, have filed a suit against the Obama administration, asking for a reprieve from the contraception mandate on religious liberty grounds.
“The HHS contraceptive mandate presents a challenge to a Catholic institution such as Thomas Aquinas College that seeks to uphold both the civil law and the teachings of the Church,” Michael McLean, president of Thomas Aquinas College, told CNA Oct. 23.
“The mandate puts those duties into direct conflict, requiring that we take action to protect the College’s Catholic identity and preserve its financial stability, as the penalties for non-compliance are substantial.”
Thomas Aquinas College is located in Santa Paula, Calif., and is filing with the D.C. district court rather than in California’s 9th district for “prudential reasons,” the college explained in an Oct. 7 press release.
Organizations and persons from the Archdiocese of Washington, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, an assortment of schools, Catholic Charities Victory Housing, the Catholic Information Center, and the Catholic University of America, as well as Thomas Aquinas College, submitted their formal complaint against the HHS mandate to the D.C. district court Sept. 20, and asked for a preliminary injunction, or reprieve from the mandate’s consequences, on Sept. 24.
This is the second time the Archdiocese has filed suit against the HHS mandate. The first lawsuit was filed in May 2012, but not allowed to proceed when the federal district court granted the government’s request to throw out the case because of the then-“ongoing rulemaking process” of the mandate.
The mandate was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Affordable Care Act and requires employers to provide and pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs and procedures in employee health insurance plans, even if doing so violates the employer’s conscience or religious beliefs.
In June 2013, the government finalized an exemption from the mandate for certain religious organizations, however, the exemption only applies to houses of worship, and not religious non-profit ministries, schools, hospitals or charities, nor does it apply to for-profit organizations run by religious persons.
This distinction, the organizations’ lawsuit says, “seeks to divide the Catholic Church, artificially separating its ‘houses of worship’ from its ministries.”
Additionally, the “shell game” the exemption presents “does not address Plaintiffs’ fundamental religious objection to improperly facilitating access to the objectionable products and services,” the lawsuit explains.
“As before, Plaintiffs are (Read More)