December 12, 2012 — The federal government on Monday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta and several other religious entities that oppose the federal contraceptive coverage rules, the AP/Huffington Post reports (AP/Huffington Post, 12/11).
The rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), require health plans issued or renewed after Aug. 1 to cover contraceptive services without copayments or deductibles. HHS has given religiously affiliated entities, such as colleges and hospitals, a one-year delay period to come into compliance, and religious institutions, such as churches and synagogues, are exempt altogether.
The suit claims that the rules will require religious institutions to provide access to and pay for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception. It also states that the plaintiffs cannot tell if they qualify for the "religious exemption" to the rules and that they would have to "submit to an intrusive and arbitrary governmental investigation" to find out (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/11).
In the filing this week, federal attorneys said there is no imminent harm to the groups involved in the lawsuit. Pending changes to the rules will accommodate the groups' concerns, they added (AP/Huffington Post, 12/11).