Michigan Catholics Sue Over Birth Control Mandate

LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Catholic Conference is suing Obama administration officials over the mandate requiring most employers to cover birth control.

The conference said Monday that the mandate violates religious freedom by requiring many religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities to comply. President Barack Obama offered to soften the mandate to accommodate religious groups, but U.S. Roman Catholic bishops say the change doesn’t go far enough.

The conference says it has provided medical insurance coverage to church workers since the 1970s and currently offers insurance at more than 1,100 Catholic institutions employing around 10,000 people.

Other Catholic entities are filing similar lawsuits against the mandate.

The Michigan conference filed its lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Co-plaintiff Franciscan University is located in Steubenville, Ohio.

The Conference’s President and CEO Paul Long said the mandate violates religious freedom by requiring many religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities to comply.

“We have been working with the administration, any through the Congress to try to resolve this. But those efforts have not been successful to date, and so we have turned to the courts, the third branch of government, with which to address our needs and concerns,” Long said.

Long said the President did offer to soften the mandate, but he said that change does not go far enough.

The University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America have also joined dozens of Roman Catholic dioceses and other institutions in the lawsuit.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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