Catholic Colleges Sue Over Birth Control

The University of Notre Dame is apparently suing the Obama administration over contraception.

According to an Associated Press article by Rachel Zoll:

Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, said in a statement that the school decided to sue “after much deliberation, discussion and efforts to find a solution acceptable to the various parties.” The university argued that the mandate violates religious freedom by requiring many religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities to comply.

“We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others,” Jenkins said. “We simply ask that the government not impose its values on the university when those values conflict with our religious teachings.”

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Notre Dame joins dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses, schools and other institutions, including the Archdioceses of Washington, New York and Michigan, and the Catholic University of America, suing the Obama administration over a recent decision requiring all heath insurance providers to provide birth control coverage without co-pay as part of employee health plans.

The Catholic college explains its opposition like this:

The federal mandate requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching. It also authorizes the government to determine which organizations are sufficiently “religious” to warrant an exemption from the requirement.

Notre Dame’s lawsuit charges that these components of the regulation are a violation of the religious liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other federal laws.

This is somewhat misleading. In fact, under a compromise introduced in February all health insurance companies must cover contraceptives.

It’s not Notre Dame’s insurance plan and it’s not the college offering (or really paying for) contraceptives. It is, in fact, the employees’ insurance plan; the employees are the ones paying for it through money withdrawn from their paychecks. If employees don’t want contraceptives, they don’t have to get them.

About 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptives. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer