In September the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Catholic Charities of Sacramento's appeal of a decision forcing it to pay for contraceptives for employees. The case was viewed by many as a clear-cut question of whether religious organizationscharities, schools, hospitalscan get the same protection under the law as churches, synagogues, and mosques. The religious groups say their teachings compel them to serve the public. The state claimed that in serving the public and hiring people unaffiliated with their faith, these institutions have forsaken many of their religious protections.
Critics say that now that religious charities are required by the California Women's Contraception Equity Act to pay for contraception coverage, things will only get worse.
"Today contraception, tomorrow abortion," said Dale Schowengerdt, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which filed an amicus brief, in a prepared statement. "It amounts to a forced violation of conscience."
In the wake of Catholic Charities of Sacramento, Inc., v. California, et al., church officials in Sacramento are weighing their options. They may fold some operations back into the diocese to strengthen their connection with the church.
The next round in the debate will occur in New York's court of appeals, probably early next year. The New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops of the state diocese and its 7.6 million Catholics, is suing to blunt a similar law, the Women's Health and Wellness Act.
According to Dennis Poust, director of communication for the New York Catholic group, "Unless we discriminated against non- Catholics [by refusing to serve them], we couldn't be called a Catholic organization."
In this case, the New York ...