Newsworthy: Federal District Court Exempts 4 Catholic Orgs from HHS Mandate

This is a victory for religious liberty and especially the rights of conscience for Catholics and Christians and others.

News has just come out of a Brooklyn federal district court with a ruling that says Catholic organizations named in the case do not have to provide insurance that covers contraception as previously mandated by the so-called HHS Mandate. This is just one of 75 similar cases filed around the USA. You can catch up on this on-going story via the USCCB’s page (and see all the links at the bottom of that page).

This just came in my email this morning from Helen Alvare of and the Chiaroscuro Institute:

A federal district court in New York has handed victory to religious plaintiffs in another mandate case against Kathleen Sebelius and HHS.
In legalese, the federal government/defendant is “enjoined and restrained from enforcing or implementing the challenged regulations, which require the prevailing plaintiffs and their respective health plans to provide, or execute a self-certification to enable a third party administrator to provide, health insurance coverage for all FDA approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling concerning these subjects…against the prevailing plaintiffs.”
A few highlights?
1-The court was very sensitive to the harm caused by the feds’ exerting “compulsion [on religious plaintiffs] to engage in affirmative acts forbidden by [their] religion

2-The government’s argument that “it’s just a form” — i.e. that religious parties who self-insure have only to fill out a form in order to get their insurance company to do the paying for contraceptives — got a similarly chilly response from the court which answered:
 “The non exempt plaintiffs are required to complete and submit this self-certification, which authorizes a third party to provide the contraceptive coverage to which they object. They consider this to ‘compel affirmation of a repugnant belief’…. It is not for this court to say otherwise.” 
3-The government’s argument —  that plaintiff employers themselves don’t have to use contraception, so where’s the burden? — was also rejected. The Court replied, “Religious plaintiffs are being required to actively participate in a scheme to provide such services. This is compulsion to do an affirmative act in violation of their religious beliefs.” And Courts are not permitted to tell religious actors that their religious beliefs are theologically wrong. That is not a court’s place.

4-The government’s having exempted a large number of people and groups from the Mandate already (grandfathered health plans, small businesses and some religious employers) shows that they don’t really have a compelling interest in getting free contraceptives to every woman. Even if they could show such an interest, there are many less restrictive means by which the government could pursue it — like tax incentives, or government-provided services or insurance.
Also, fyi, did you see Vanity Fair’s exposé of NuvaRing??? The Mandate includes this contraceptive device. Wow, Vanity Fair… that’s important.
Note among the comments, a doctor writing:
“There are numerous clinical trials which show that all hormonal contraception increases the risk of clot, and that the Nuva Ring is no better or worse than oral contraceptives…” 
And this one from parents who lost a child using this device: 
Thank you for publishing this article about the dangers of NuvaRing.  My own 29 year old daughter died in March of this year from blood clots in her lungs.  She was on NuvaRing.  This is a heartbreak that no parent wants for their daughter.
Our work on this Mandate is important on so many levels.
Here’s to even more and even better in the coming year.
My best to you,
Helen Alvare

1 comment on “Newsworthy: Federal District Court Exempts 4 Catholic Orgs from HHS Mandate

  1. Hooray! Good news for our side. Thanks!

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