TN Catholic groups file lawsuit over contraceptive coverage

The Catholic Diocese of Nashville and several affiliated organizations have filed suit against the federal government, claiming it is requiring them to violate their religious principles by offering health insurance that includes contraceptive services to employees, according to the Tennessean.

At issue is what type of organization qualifies as “exempt” under federal guidelines released this past summer.

Earlier this year, the federal government offered some organizations an exemption, on religious grounds, from the coverage mandate. The exemption is too narrow, critics argue, because only organizations that qualify under the tax codes as churches can be exempted. Other groups, including camps and charities, do not qualify…

In Nashville, that leaves many groups conflicted about what they are required to provide employees. Other plaintiffs besides the Nashville diocese include Camp Marymount Inc., Mary Queen of Angels Inc., Catholic Charities of Tennessee Inc., St. Mary Villa Inc., Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia Congregation and Aquinas College.

Most of the plaintiffs “do not qualify under the Government’s narrow definition of ‘religious employers,’ even though they are religious organizations under any reasonable definition of the term,” the complaint says.

Meanwhile, the Catholic belief system stipulates that life begins at conception and therefore contraceptive drugs are morally wrong. “Providing insurance coverage for drugs like these amounts to facilitating abortion, which violates their core religious beliefs,” Hardman said.

Similar lawsuits have been filed by Catholic dioceses in other states.

…The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to referee another dispute over the health care law: whether businesses may use religious objections to escape a requirement to cover birth control for employees.

The justices said they will take up an issue that has divided the lower courts in the face of roughly 40 lawsuits from for-profit companies asking to be spared from having to cover some or all forms of contraception.

The Obama administration promotes the law’s provision of a range of free preventive care as a key benefit of health care reform. Contraception is included in the package of cost-free benefits, which opponents say is an attack on the religious freedom of employers.