The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “The right of church-related organizations to keep a clear conscience trumps the federal government’s desire to improve access to contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Thursday in a preliminary decision that could set the tone in a legal fight of national scope.”
A preliminary injunction was granted to the Catholic Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Erie, Catholic Charities agencies and other affiliated Catholic non-profits. On January 1, 2014, the agencies do not have to comply with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that would force Catholic employers to buy coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that induce abortion.
Bishop Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh said, ” Judge Schwab refused to accept that religious freedom is solely the freedom to worship behind closed doors. When the Church ‘loves our neighbor,’ Judge Schwab effectively ruled, it cannot be punished or forced to compromise its beliefs. These good works are not secondary to the practice of faith, but are central. Judge Schwab’s ruling affirms that fundamental constitutional understanding of religious freedom.”
Bishop Persico of the Diocese of Erie said, “We will now continue to pursue our rights as we seek a permanent injunction to avoid being forced to pay for services and procedures which violate the tenets of our faith.”
This is a significant victory for religious liberty, but the issue is not yet resolved. Dozens of other cases throughout the United States are still pending. It is likely one of more of the cases will come before the U.S. Supreme Court. Concerned Catholics are also pressuring Congress to pass legislation to remedy the situation.
“Catholic dioceses of Pittsburgh, Erie win injunction against Affordable Care Act,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – November 21, 2013
“Judge rules for Erie diocese in contraception fight,” Erie Times-News – November 21, 2013