Federal judge rules in favor of Staten Island group on contraception

 

Deborah Young

  Staten Island Advance - Staten Island, NY
  12/26/2012
 

American Freedom Law Center filed a lawsuit in February on behalf of Priests for Life against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A rally, above, was held against the agency in March.

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Staten Island-based Priests for Life will not be legally obligated to offer contraceptive services to its roughly 50 employees at the beginning of January, after a judge Thursday ruled in a civil case brought by the anti-abortion organization.

The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a lawsuit in February against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the organization's behalf -- challenging the constitutionality of what the suit deems the "contraception mandate" in the federal health care law.

The suit is one of at least 44 similar actions filed by religious and secular organizations nationwide, among them various Roman Catholic dioceses and Domino's Pizza.

While the government devised a stipulation that -- at least temporarily -- excludes religious institutions from offering contraception to employees, Priests for Life was not included among the religious groups receiving this temporary so-called "safe harbor."

Thursday's decision issued in Brooklyn by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York gave the group that describes itself as "an international, Catholic pro-life" organization at least until March to avoid the government insurance mandate.

"What is good is come 2013 they're not going to have to provide these objectionable services as part of their health care plan," said Robert J. Muise, co-founder and senior counsel for American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), who argued the case in Court.