Kathleen Gilbert

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Catholic U. on HHS mandate: Obama admin ‘showed no sign of taking us seriously’

Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - One of the Catholic universities joining the barrage of lawsuits against the Obama administration over its birth control mandate says that the White House has “showed no sign of taking seriously” the objections of religious employees.

Lawrence Morris, general counsel for the Catholic University of America, told LifeSiteNews.com in an email that the school’s own attempts to reason with the administration, including a letter from CUA President John Garvey to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, were not met with meaningful dialogue. Morris also criticized the “accommodation” proposed by Obama earlier this year proposing that insurers would provide birth control to religious employees for “free,” but that left the wording of the original mandate unchanged.

“The Administration showed no sign of taking seriously the objections of religious institutions, and the so-called ‘accommodation’ ignores the reality of insurance companies – we would still directly be in the contraception business even if the insurer technically provided the drugs or devices,” said Morris.

CUA was one of 43 Roman Catholic organizations that filed a dozen lawsuits nationwide against the HHS mandate simultaneously at 11 a.m. on May 21.

Morris pointed out that the administration could have easily achieved the goal of making birth control universally available without forcing church compliance.

“HHS has no qualms about forcing religious institutions such as ours to underwrite surgical sterilization and contraceptives, including pills that act after fertilization to cause abortions,” said Morris. “There are many easier ways for the Administration to accomplish this if it just wanted to make free birth control available – most obviously by the government just giving it away – and not forcing religious employers to subsidize them (we pay about 2/3 of the insurance bill for the typical employee) and communicate their availability.”

Morris described the school’s lawsuit as a “regrettable last step after we have been frustrated in using the political process to obtain relief.” If the mandate weren’t overturned, he said, “we calculate that we would have to pay an annual fine of more than $2.5 million.”

“There is but one issue here: our religious freedom as a Catholic institution,” he said. “The government has overstepped its authority in trying to circumscribe that freedom and now we must turn to the courts to assert and protect those rights.”

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