Notre Dame, 43 religious organizations, sue government over contraception mandate

Melissa Quinn Contributor
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The University of Notre Dame has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over the constitutionality of the contraception mandate.

According to the South Bend Tribune, the university is questioning the constitutionality of the regulation proposed by the administration that would require religious organizations to provide insurance coverage for services that go against the beliefs of the Catholic church.

The lawsuit, filed today, states that the mandate infringes on religious freedoms granted by the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other laws. In addition, the lawsuit challenges the Obama administration’s “unprecedented mandate that attacks the freedom to practice religion without government interference,” lifenews.com claimed.

Under the mandate proposed by the current administration, Notre Dame would be required to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures in their insurance plans. The mandate also gives the government the power to determine which organizations are “religious” enough to warrant an exemption.

Notre Dame’s lawsuit was one of 12 that were filed on Monday against the Obama administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. According to lifenews.com, The suit names a total of 43 plaintiffs including Franciscan University of Steubenville, the Archdioceses of New York, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, and the Dioceses of Dallas, Fort Worth, Rockville Centre, Pittsburgh, and the Michigan Catholic Conference.

The mandate, first proposed in late 2011, was first met with strong objections from Catholic universities, organizations and hospitals. But, in February 2012, President Obama and HHS Secretary Sebilus announced a “compromise” that would require insurance providers, not religious institutions, to shoulder the cost. That move was not acceptable to the institutions objecting on principle.

In a statement from the Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, Jenkins wrote that the filing is about “the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives.”

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