Federal mandated birth control access faces challenges in court

May 22, 2012

New federal regulations require employers to provide no-cost prescription birth control as part of their health insurance plans. Credit: Tim Matsui/Getty Images

The Obama administration is being sued by many prominent Catholic institutions who are challenging a federal mandate for employers to provide contraception to their employees. The archdiocese of New York and Washington D.C. and even some Catholic universities like Notre Dame are among the higher profile groups that are filing the lawsuit.

These groups claim that such a mandate would compel them to violate church doctrine and teaching pertaining to birth control by offering it to many of their employees. Some employers are exempt from the federal mandate but many including schools, hospitals and charity groups that offer large arrays of services, are not. Some of the Archbishops representing the dioceses in the lawsuit are expressing their increasing frustration with the administration saying that the courts were the last resort.

Proponents of the federal mandate are organizations like Planned Parenthood who emphasis that access to birth control is critical in developing and maintaining the health and economic standards for American women among other benefits.

So, does the federal mandate go too far and infringe upon a groups freedom of religion? Is mandate coverage of birth control a basic human health service that should be offered to all employees? Should birth control be left solely up to those who want it or should it be accessible to everyone regardless of their beliefs?


Richard W. Garnett, Professor of Law and Associate Dean at Notre Dame Law School

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