Archdiocese of Miami files lawsuit challenging health plan policy

Lawsuit challenges coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, contraception

MIAMI - The Archdiocese of Miami announced Friday that it will file a lawsuit challenging the legality of the mandate that religious organizations provide health plans to their employees that include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception.

In February, President Barack Obama announced a policy whereby religious institutions must provide birth control to female employees, even if it violates their religious beliefs. The policy brought the president an avalanche of criticism because it forces religious institutions that oppose abortion to offer birth control to female employees. 

The lawsuit is being filed by Archbishop Thomas Wenski as corporate sole, Catholic Health Services, Inc., and Catholic Hospice, Inc. The defendants are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Hilda Solis, as Secretary of D.O.L., Timothy Geithner, as Secretary of the Treasury, as well as the Departments of HHS, Labor, and Treasury.

"We provide a health plan, so we are self-insured, and when the president announced last January, a compromise, which was no compromise, namely that these religious institutions would not have to provide these services, he'll just make the insurance companies provide them. Well, we are our own insurance company," Archbishop Wenski.

It's one thing to have access to contraceptives, another to require employers to offer them under their insurance policy.

"The mandate is, again, trying to force us to violate our consciences by providing services that we cannot accept as Catholics, and products that we cannot provide to our people because of our beliefs," said Archbishop Wenski.

The mandate is being challenged as a violation of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a violation of the Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the First Amendment, a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, a violation of the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment, and other more technical violations regarding the rule-making authority of HHS.


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