WASHINGTON-- The battle between the Obama administration and some prominent Catholic institutions intensified Monday when 43 Catholic groups, including the archdioceses of Washington, D.C., and New York, and Notre Dame and Catholic universities, filed suit across the country challenging a federal mandate requiring them to provide contraception to their employees.
The organizations say the administration’s contraceptive requirement would compel them to violate church teaching. Some employers are exempt from the federal mandate – but many are not, including schools, hospitals and charities that offer their services widely.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said the suits reflect frustration with the administration and Congress.
“Time is running out, and our precious ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now,” he said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood criticized the suits.
“Access to birth control is a critical health and economic concern for American women,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It is unbelievable that in the year 2012 we have to fight for access to birth control. Yet this lawsuit would make it harder for millions of women to get birth control. Insurance companies should cover birth control just like any other preventive prescription, as the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended.”
The suits are the latest in a series of fights on the issue. Recently, Georgetown University took sharp criticism for inviting HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak at this year’s graduation.