.- The California Catholic Conference is not backing down after the state’s highest court ruled March 1 that Catholic Charities, Inc. is not a religious organization and is not entitled to the exemption on contraceptive care given to religious employers.
The conference announced yesterday that it is reviewing its legal options and would consider appealing the decision to the United States Supreme Court.
The court said Catholic Charities is no different from other businesses in California, which are required to include contraception coverage if their health plans include prescription drug benefits.
It said the charity is not a religious employer because it offers secular services, such as counseling, low-income housing and immigration services to people of all faiths, without directly preaching Catholic values.
The California Catholic Conference, which represents the Church's policy position in the state, called the ruling a “bitter disappointment to everyone who believes that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are the cornerstones of our society.”
The executive director of the California Catholic Conference, Ned Dolejsi, said the case was never about contraceptives or insurance. “It was about our ability to practice our religion – providing food, clothing and shelter to the neediest among us – as a religious organization which is part of the Catholic Church.”
Dolejsi said the court’s action, which forces the Catholic Church to violate its core beliefs on contraception “undermines the rights of each and every Californian.”