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Bishops in New York sue over new medical insurance law. (Catholic Health Care).

THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS' conference in New York has sued the state over a new law that requires health insurance policies that cover prescriptions to also cover Food and Drug Administration approved prescription contraception and other women's health services including mammograms from age 40, osteoporosis treatments and a statewide breast cancer detection program. The bishops claim that the law will force Catholic institutions to go against church teachings that oppose the use of contraception. The new law came into force January 1, 2003.

The bishops had lobbied to force a broad exemption for Catholic institutions. The law does provide some employers with an exemption, but only if their primary function is religious, and that most of the people they employ and serve share their religion.

New York is the 20th state since 1998 to require that employers treat contraceptives just as they do other prescription drugs in their health insurance plans. Nine of the 20 have broad exemptions for religious institutions, and five have none. The remaining six states, including New York and California, exempt only institutions whose primary purpose is teaching religious values, such as seminaries and churches. A similar lawsuit in California is pending before California's Supreme Court.

In California, CFFC lead a coalition of progressive groups that filed an amici curiae brief in a similar case before the state Supreme Court. Catholic Charities of California has sued the state, charging that the 2000 Women's Contraceptive Equity Law does not allow adequate exemptions for religious organizations. The brief shows that Catholic Charities is not a religious employer; that Catholics may and do dissent from Catholic teachings on contraception and many Catholic hospitals and insurance companies implement strategies that uphold Catholic theology and provide contraception; and that there is no basis in Catholic theology for any contraceptive ban to be applied to non-Catholics (which would be the result of exempting Catholic Charities from the law). The case is pending.
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Publication:Conscience
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Mar 22, 2003
Words:319
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