Catholic challenge to contraception law is rejected in New York


A New York court ruled that a law, requiring employers to include contraceptives in drug prescription plans, does not intrude on the rights of religious organizations, reported the Associated Press.

A group of organizations, affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church, filed the suit, claiming that they should not be required to include contraception coverage for employees since the Catholic Church opposes contraceptives.

The law exempts churches from having to provide such coverage for employees who work in parishes, but the law requires coverage for employees who work in Church-based outreach programs and services.

The groups that filed the suit employ thousands of workers in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and social service agencies, who may not be Catholic.

In a decision made last week but only publicized yesterday, State Justice Dan Lamont rejected claims that the law violates the groups’ constitutional rights.

The law has clear "secular purposes" of promoting women's health and ending gender discrimination, Lamont wrote. There was no evidence of "animosity" toward the Catholic Church in the law, he added.

Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, which supported the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, promised to appeal.

The California Supreme Court is expected to rule on a similar case this week. Catholic Charities of Sacramento has tried unsuccessfully in lower courts to bar a similar law from being applied to its outreach programs.

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