Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Forced Coverage of Contraception

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop New York from pressuring it to pay for contraception. CLS has joined an amicus brief written by Sidley & Austin urging the Court to take the case.

The New York’s Women’s Health and Wellness Act ("WHWA") requires that all group insurance policies that include coverage for prescription drugs also provide coverage for prescribed contraceptive drugs or devices. The legislature exempted "religious employers" from this requirement, but defined that phrase narrowly.

Catholic Charities fell outside this exemption, and was thus required, contrary to its religious beliefs, to pay for contraceptives if it continued to provide prescription drug insurance coverage to its employees. It filed a religious freedom lawsuit, which the New York courts rejected. On May 18, it asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lower courts' rejection of its claims.

California adopted a similar law, and Catholic Charities of Sacramento filed a similar lawsuit. It lost in state court, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take its case. We hope that the Court takes the New York case and reverses the lower courts' decision that free contraception is more important than religious liberty.