NY Catholic Group Wins Right To Deny Birth Control to Employees

Illustration for article titled NY Catholic Group Wins Right To Deny Birth Control to Employees

US District Judge Brian Cogan ruled yesterday that a group of New York Catholic institutions cannot be forced to offer birth control in employee health care plans as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The group consisted of six New York-area Catholic organizations including the Archdiocese, high schools, medical and health services, and non-profits and collectively covers approximately 57,000 employees.

Judge Cogan decided that the organizations had the right to completely abstain from participating in the ACA mandate that compelled them "to perform acts undeniably at odds with fundamental tenets of their religious beliefs" even though not all employees affected are Catholic or hold those same fundamental tenets.

This is one of many battles regarding religious organizations and the ACA's birth control mandate, although for-profit secular corporations like Hobby Lobby are also fighting the mandate on religious grounds. It seems the bitter irony of mandating the non-mandating of a mandate is lost on these groups.

Image via AP

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I'm not quite sure why, but I have the biggest problem with the hospitals being exempt from covering their employees (and I have a BIG problem with any of the Catholic organizations being exempt at all). I think it's because hospitals employ so many people and and so much of their funding is government money. Often in rural areas the only hospital in an area might be a Catholic one (even in NY—it's a really big state and it's not all NYC). So health professionals might not have the option of working at the non-Catholic hospital across town.

I'm trying to be really open-minded here, because I have a Catholic friend and she really believes that Catholics shouldn't have to pay for other people's abortions and birth control, and that individuals should pay for that themselves, and if they know that's the policy of that job, then don't work there if you don't like it, etc. I disagree with her on every level of this issue but it was illuminating for me to hear her viewpoint.