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Philadelphia Archdiocese Files Suit Over Federal Contraceptive Coverage Rules

Philadelphia Archdiocese Files Suit Over Federal Contraceptive Coverage Rules

June 4, 2014 — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia has filed a lawsuit alleging that the federal contraceptive coverage rules violate its religious and other rights, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Brubaker, Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/2).

The rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), require most for-profit businesses to offer contraceptive coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans. Houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, and religiously affiliated not-for-profits are eligible for an accommodation that ensures they do not have to pay for or directly provide the coverage to their employees (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/2).

In a 26-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the archdiocese claims that it and its affiliates will face debilitating fines, amounting to $160,000 per day, for not complying with the rules.

The archdiocese also says that it objects to the federal government's accommodation for religiously affiliated not-for-profits, arguing that they cannot follow it and "adhere to their sincerely held Catholic beliefs on the dignity and sanctity of human life" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/2).