NEW YORK (PIX11)—The Archdiocese of New York, joined by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, filed a federal lawsuit Monday against three Cabinet officials in the Obama administration. It was the first, legal salvo in the feud over insurance funding for birth control--which could soon be a mandate, even for Catholic health care agencies and universities. "I appreciated meeting the President; there's a lot I admire about him," Timothy Cardinal Dolan told PIX 11, after the suit was filed in the Eastern District of New York. "But we weren't making progress."
The lawsuit cites Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Hilda Solis, U.S. Labor Secretary, and Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, as defendants. It begins by stating, "This lawsuit is about one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference." Cardinal Dolan, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had told the President last fall that providing contraceptive services, even through insurance coverage, is contrary to Roman Catholic religious beliefs.
Back in February, President Barack Obama made a national announcement that his administration was making "accommodations"--to address the concerns of Christian-based health care agencies. But Cardinal Dolan told PIX: "They lack substance." He pointed out that many Catholic agencies in the Archdiocese of New York are "self insured"--so there would be no independent insurer to cover the services Obama said every woman has a right to.
Ten years ago, long before Timothy Dolan was appointed Archbishop of New York, the Archdiocese filed a lawsuit against New York State, after a law was passed that directed Catholic institutions to provide coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices in their insurance policies. The Archdiocese lost that suit.
The Cardinal told us he believed this federal lawsuit could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.