University Sues HHS Over Birth Control Mandate
Catholic University has joined forces with Wheaton College, teh private liberal arts college located in Wheaton, Illinois, in an ongoing lawsuit against the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
They are working together in an effort to exempt themselves and all other religious institutions from the new Obama administration law that necessitates that all institutions, public and private, provide contraceptives and abortifacients to their charges enrolled under their corporate insurance policies.
The case against HHS, which is managed by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, was filed in District of Columbia federal courts on May 21 with the aid of the Jones Day law firm, by whom CUA is being represented. Wheaton College is being represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, whose mission is to protect the rights of all faiths.
“The government seeks to require plaintiffs–all Catholic entities–to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs by providing, paying for, and/or facilitating access to their services,” states the complaint.
The new HHS-promoted insurance policy would not go into effect for Catholic University until the beginning of the 2013 academic year. For this reason, the the attorney representing HHS made the motion to dismiss it, as no harm has yet to occur to either CUA or any of the other religious institutions represented by the Archdiocese.
A quick-witted attorney at the Jones Day firm was able to prove otherwise, stating the logistics of planning healthcare for a university the size of CUA.
“If the mandate stays in place for Catholic University and we refuse to provide contraceptive coverage, we will face a crippling annual fine of about $62 million,” stated Victor Nakas, associate vice president for public affairs.
If the case were to be thrown out because of irrelevancy, it would not be re-instated until the University or other religiously affiliated organizations, such as Wheaton College, were caught breaking the law by not providing the contraceptives that so go against all of their morals and teachings. By then these institutions and others would incur the fine that policy officials have crafted. By this point, the financial burden placed on these institutions for not obeying their legal obligations would force them into uncharted territory.
Come 2013, in accordance with the HHS mandate, all organizations, including Catholic University, will be forced to provide contraceptives and abortifacients at no cost to those covered.
With the inclusion of Wheaton College, often regarded as the leading Protestant college in the United States, to the suit, the fight against mandatory, government-issued family planning and contraceptives is no longer an issue exclusive to the Roman Catholic Church and the Catholic University of America, but it is an issue of religious freedom that affects people and institutions across the nation.
“The HHS mandate is every bit as important an issue for the University today as it was when it was first announced earlier this year,” said President John H. Garvey. “No genuine accommodation has been made to protect the religious liberty of institutions like Catholic University. I hope that members of the University community will raise this issue with candidates for elective office of both major political parties.”