New York Catholic Groups Win Injunction Against Contraception Mandate

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that an assortment of New York Catholic institutions do not have to comply with the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act, holding the accommodation for religiously affiliated nonprofit entities was not enough to protect religious liberties.

The decision is the second in the flurry of litigation filed by religious nonprofits challenging the mandate and came in a case filed by Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, a group of nonprofits providing health care to the poor and disabled, and a group that oversees six hospitals, three nursing homes, and a hospice. The plaintiffs had filed suit last year once the accommodation for religiously affiliated employers was finalized, arguing that the law’s requirement they fill out a form to self-certify their institution should be exempt from the law’s coverage requirement was itself too much of a burden on their religious beliefs because it forces them to be complicit in a “scheme” to arrange a third party to provide services with which they fundamentally disagree.

According to U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, the religious nonprofit plaintiffs “demonstrated that the mandate, despite accommodation, compels them to perform acts that are contrary to their religion,” Cogan wrote. “And there can be no doubt that the coercive pressure here is substantial.”

Judge Cogan dismissed arguments made by the Obama administration that the law’s requirement that some employers offer insurance coverage for contraception at no additional cost to their employees was not a substantial burden on the plaintiffs’ religion, holding it was “not for this Court to say otherwise” if it was. “They [the plaintiffs] consider this to be an endorsement of such coverage; to them, the self-certification compels affirmation of a repugnant belief.”

The decision affects more than 25,000 employees and is the latest in a wave of lawsuits challenging the requirement that is already before the United States Supreme Court. Just last month the Roberts Court agreed to hear two cases involving challenges to the birth control benefit on religious freedom grounds brought by secular, for-profit corporations.

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  • LittleMissMellaril

    Great, just great. :(

  • HeilMary1

    A high school shamelessly named after Spellman, a treasonous Nazi-colluder / pedophile rapist of homeless male youths, has no business protesting contraceptive mandates! I hope lawyers opposing the school’s suit will bring up Spellman’s criminal atrocities!

  • Fleet Admiral Josh

    so all they have to do is fill out a form saying they are exempt from paying for contraception coverage…and that’s a religious burden? At some point you have to ask: what CAN’T you do by claiming religion at this point?

    • JamieHaman

      At this rate there won’t be anything.
      Sooner or later corporations will sue for their religious right to stone some woman who isn’t a virgin.
      This judge is insane.

  • CT14

    So, a regulation requiring INSURANCE COMPANIES to cover women’s health violates a COMPANY’S religious principals?

    Incorporation protects the principals from personal liability. Why should they enjoy the benefits of incorporation without having any of the responsibilities?

    Women earn their benefits. There is no mandate that FORCES them and their doctors to prescribe and take birth control. The Catholic Church used to care about an active faith–the availability of free birth control should simply provide more grace to the Catholic women who choose not to use it. And that’s where it should end.

    I’m just boggled at the knots a court is willing to tie itself into in order to restrict women’s rights. Illinois, and a majority of states, have required contraception coverage for decades, and the Catholic bishops never said a word about it.

  • lelone1028

    The war on women is alive and well! They continue to play judge and jury over these women who need birth control (for MANY reasons, not just BC), When patients have million dollar illnesses and surgeries, who do they think foot a portion of those bills?? We all pay for it thru our premiums … that’s the way it is with all insurance. In FL 2005 several hurricanes wreaked havoc to so many … not me! I had no damage, no claims. But the following year my premium still went up by 1/3 … that’s the way it works!!