Bloomberg News

Priests for Life Group Sues U.S Over Contraception Mandate

February 21, 2012

(Updates with group’s description in the sixth paragraph.)

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration was sued by a Christian organization called Priests for Life, which says the government mandate that insurance providers cover birth control violates the organization’s religious and free-speech rights.

Priests for Life, in a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, also objected to the requirement that employers provide coverage for sterilization and related education, and to the penalties for not complying. They said the mandate violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The group wants the court to prohibit enforcement of the rules under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.

The mandate “violates the freedom of all people of faith, and even those of no faith, who have a conscientious objection to contraception, sterilization or abortion,” the Staten Island, New York-based group said in its complaint.

Last week Obama offered a compromise that would force health insurers, and not religious-affiliated charities, to pay for contraceptives for employees of those institutions. Republican lawmakers have vowed to push for a measure in Congress to repeal the policy, a vote that could come as early as this week.

Erin Shields, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, declined to comment on the litigation.

“Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro- life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia,” according to a statement by the group.

The case is Priests for Life v. Sebelius, 12-cv-753, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

--With assistance from Margaret Talev and Mike Dorning in Washington. Editors: Mary Romano, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Thom Weidlich in Brooklyn, New York, federal court at tweidlich@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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