US Free Contraception Rule Faces Lawsuit

Posted February 9th, 2012 at 6:50 pm (UTC-5)
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A U.S. Roman Catholic television network is suing the federal government over a mandate that requires the organization to provide free birth control to women.

The Eternal Word Television Network filed its suit in federal court Thursday. In the complaint, its lawyers say the EWTN strongly believes, based on Catholic teachings, the covered contraceptive methods do not “constitute medicine, health care, or a means of providing for the well-being of persons.”

The network is arguing the policy violates first amendment rights to freely practice religion.

The rule, part of the larger health care reform act championed by President Barack Obama, has faced a barrage of complaints and criticism, including two other pending lawsuits. It requires employer insurance plans to cover birth control, including sterilization and the morning-after pill. Religious organizations, such as churches, are exempted, but religious-oriented institutions, like hospitals, charities, and universities, are not.

Congressional Republicans such as House Speaker John Boehner have vowed to fight the mandate.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said “a large body of medical evidence” shows contraceptives have significant health benefits for women and their children. She said the Obama administration followed the precedent of several state laws in crafting its exemption for certain religious organizations.

Sebelius also noted that the law does not require doctors to prescribe, or women to use, any birth control method they feel violates their religious beliefs.