KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Catholic Groups Sue To Stop Birth Control Coverage Rule

In total, 43 Catholic groups -- including archdioceses in D.C. and New York, and Catholic universities such as Notre Dame -- brought suits in a dozen federal courts against a provision of the health law that requires they cover birth control in most of their health plans.

Los Angeles Times: Catholic Institutions Sue Over Contraceptive Rule
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 (Duncan, 5/21).

NPR Shots Blog: Catholic Groups Sue Obama Administration Over Birth Control Rule
So much for compromise. A total of 43 Catholic educational, charitable and other entities filed a dozen lawsuits in federal court around the nation Monday, charging that the Obama Administration's rule requiring coverage of birth control in most health insurance plans violates their religious freedom (Rovner, 5/21).

The New York Times: Catholics File Suits On Contraceptive Coverage
In an effort to show a unified front in their campaign against the birth control mandate, 43 Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, social service agencies and other institutions filed lawsuits in 12 federal courts on Monday, challenging the Obama administration's rule that their employees receive coverage for contraception in their health insurance policies (Goodstein, 5/21).

The Wall Street Journal: Catholics Sue Over Health Mandate
The University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and 41 other Roman Catholic institutions sued the Obama administration in federal court Monday, the latest push against a requirement in the health care overhaul law that employers cover contraception in workers' health plans (Radnofsky, 5/21).

The Associated Press: Catholic Dioceses, Colleges Sue Over Obama Mandate 
Roman Catholic leaders opened a new front against the Obama administration mandate that employers provide workers birth control coverage, filing federal lawsuits Monday on behalf of dioceses, schools and health care agencies that argued the requirement violates religious freedom. Among the plaintiffs is the University of Notre Dame, which in February had praised President Barack Obama for pledging to accommodate religious groups and find a way to soften the rule. Notre Dame president, the Rev. John Jenkins, said the school had since decided to sue because "progress has not been encouraging" in talks with administration officials (Zoll, 5/21).

Chicago Tribune: Illinois Dioceses, Other Catholic Groups Sue Over White House Insurance Mandate
The Roman Catholic dioceses of Springfield and Joliet have joined 41 other religious institutions filing simultaneous lawsuits that challenge the Obama administration's mandate that many religious employers have their health insurance cover the cost of birth control for employees. Catholic Charities programs in both dioceses also filed simultaneous lawsuits in U.S. District Court on Monday (Brachear, 5/22).

Politico: Notre Dame, Other Groups File New Lawsuits Against Contraception Rule
The groups say the administration's policy is a violation of their right to freedom of religion. The Obama administration has said it would give religious-affiliated institutions, such as Notre Dame, a one-year reprieve from the policy, which goes into effect Aug. 1. During that time, the administration has said it would work on a compromise. But the plaintiffs say that there is no way to compromise on the matter and that the administration has not yet delivered any new policy (Haberkorn, 5/21).

Reuters: U.S. Catholic Groups Sue To Block Contraception Mandate
The University of Notre Dame and dozens of other Catholic institutions sued President Barack Obama's administration on Monday to block a government regulation that requires employers to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives to employees. The regulation, which is part of the president's health care reform law, has sparked a nasty fight between the administration and the Roman Catholic Church, which opposes artificial contraception. Some 43 Catholic groups including Notre Dame, Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of New York filed 12 different suits across the country (Baynes, 5/21).

Bloomberg: Catholic Church Attacks Birth-Control Mandate In Court
The Catholic Church and related universities, charities and health-care groups sued the Obama administration in a bid to overturn a requirement that their health plans cover birth control. Forty-three Catholic organizations, including the archdioceses of Washington and New York, the University of Notre Dame and Catholic University of America, filed 12 suits yesterday in courts around the country, saying the mandate violates religious freedom and free-speech rights. They asked federal judges to bar the mandate's application to religious institutions or overturn it altogether (Forden, 5/22).

National Journal: Major Catholic Institutions Sue Over Birth Control Rule
"For the first time in this country's history, the government's new definition of religious institutions suggests that some of the very institutions that put our faith into practice—schools, hospitals, and social service organizations—are not 'religious enough,'" Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, said in a statement. Religious groups are exempted from the rule if they employ primarily people of their faith (McCarthy, 5/21).

The Hill: Planned Parenthood: Contraception Suit 'Unbelievable'
"It is unbelievable that in the year 2012 we have to fight for access to birth control," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Yet this lawsuit would make it harder for millions of women to get birth control." The lawsuits and the response from Planned Parenthood mirror the political debate over the birth-control mandate. Critics, most notably the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, see the policy as a question of religious freedom. But the mandate's supporters say it's about women's health, not religion (Baker, 5/21).

NewsHour (Video): Catholic Groups Sue Over Contraception Coverage
A group of Roman Catholic leaders and institutions sued the Obama administration over the federal mandate to provide birth control to employees, saying it violated religious freedom. Gwen Ifill and The Wall Street Journal's Janet Adamy discuss the lawsuit (5/21).

McClatchy: Catholic Employers Sue Over Contraceptive Rule
At issue is a rule in the Obama 2010 health-care law requiring contraception coverage, including the morning-after pill, at no cost. Under rules released last August, churches, mosques and other places of worship would be exempt, but not religiously affiliated groups, such as hospitals and universities. But that did not satisfy some prominent Catholic officials. In response, the administration softened the rule earlier this year so that religiously affiliated employers could shift the requirement for paying for contraceptive coverage onto their insurers (Duncan, 5/21).

Fox News (Video): Catholic Organizations Across The Country File Suit Against Contraception Mandate
Some of the most influential Catholic institutions in the country filed suit against the Obama administration Monday over the so-called contraception mandate, in one of the biggest coordinated legal challenges to the rule to date. Claiming their "fundamental rights hang in the balance," a total of 43 plaintiffs filed a dozen separate federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the requirement. Among the organizations filing were the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and The Catholic University of America (5/21).

The Hill (Video): Obama Adviser Defends Contraception Mandate
Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod defended the health care law's mandate on contraception Monday shortly after a lawsuit was filed against it by Catholic institutions. "These institutions don't have to pay for it, they don't have to sponsor it and I think most people agree that’s an appropriate compromise," Axelrod said in an appearance on MSNBC (Altman, 5/21).

The Hill: Dem Law May Be Downfall Of Mandate
The biggest legal threat to the White House’s birth control mandate could come from a decades-old law that was championed by liberal Democrats, according to legal experts. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) has been mentioned in nearly all of the more than 30 lawsuits pending against President Obama's administration over the mandate. One, filed by the University of Notre Dame on Monday, cited RFRA’s protections in the first paragraph (Viebeck, 5/22).

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