May 21, 2012
Catholic University Files Suit to Block HHS Mandate
Today The Catholic University of America joined a lawsuit to block implementation of the mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services that would require it to provide health insurance coverage for surgical sterilization, prescription contraceptives, and drugs that cause early stage abortions.
The Jones Day law firm has filed the suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of The Catholic University of America, the Archdiocese of Washington, the Consortium of Catholic Academies, Archbishop Carroll High School, and Catholic Charities of D.C. (For a complete list of the plaintiffs, click here.)
President John Garvey issued the following statement:
On August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule requiring most health insurance plans to cover, at no added cost to subscribers, sterilization procedures and prescription contraceptives, including pills that act after fertilization to induce abortions. The rule included an exemption for “religious employers,” but that term is defined so narrowly that it excludes Catholic universities and most other Catholic institutions.
On January 20, 2012, HHS announced its intention to make the rule final. Almost immediately there arose a public furor. In an effort to moderate the reaction, President Obama proposed that HHS might require insurance companies to pay for the mandated services in the first instance. Such a revision would not solve our moral dilemma. In the President’s scenario the cost of mandated services would be rolled into the cost of an insurance policy, which federal law requires Catholic University and other religious organizations to buy. The only change the “accommodation” offers is that the insurance company, rather than the University, would notify subscribers that the policy covers the mandated services. In the end the University, its employees, and its students will be forced to pay for the prescriptions and services we find objectionable.
We have filed this lawsuit today only after concluding that time is running out and there are no other viable options. The HHS mandate was made final on February 15, 2012, and is now law. Efforts to overturn it in Congress have failed. The White House has refused to compromise on the central issues that cause us such grave concern. For some religious institutions, the law will take effect August 1 of this year; for others, August 1, 2013. In any event, our lawsuit will take time to work its way through the court system. Unless we can get judicial relief, we will soon have to take steps to conform to a rule we view as immoral.
President Garvey and University General Counsel Lawrence Morris are available for interviews today on the lawsuit. To schedule an interview please call the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 and ask for Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy.
President Garvey will participate in a 5 p.m. panel discussion today on the topic “Religious Liberty in 2012: Still the First Freedom?” at the National Press Club sponsored by The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. For details and to register, see http://www.law.edu/res/docs/pdf-documents/2012-/Religious-Liberty-in-2012-Still-the-First-Freedom-5-.pdf.