MIAMI (CNS) -- The Obama administration "has not shown any inclination to rescind" its requirement that most religious employers cover contraceptives for their workers, so "we need to get this mandate overturned" by the courts, said Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski. He made the comments at an afternoon news conference Oct. 19 to announce the Miami Archdiocese has joined the 50 or so other Catholic dioceses, universities and entities throughout the U.S. that have filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate.
Under the mandate, all employers, including most Catholic and other religious employers, must provide coverage in their health care plans for contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions, and for sterilizations, over any moral objections they have. "We feel it is a violation" of the First Amendment, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and HHS's rule-making authority, the archbishop said.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of the Archdiocese of Miami, Catholic Health Services and Catholic Hospice. It was filed by the archdiocese's legal representatives, J. Patrick Fitzgerald and Associates, along with the Jones Day law firm, which is providing its services pro bono. Jones Day is representing many other Catholic entities in similar lawsuits. Archbishop Wenski pointed out that Vice President Joe Biden spoke "untruthfully" during the vice presidential debate Oct. 11 when he said there is no problem between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration on the health care issue. Biden stated that "no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, ... has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide." The mandate, however, has a narrow religious exemption that would protect only those Catholic institutions that seek to inculcate Catholic values and primarily employ and serve Catholics.