The Peoria Catholic Diocese is filing a federal lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act's mandate that employers provide contraceptive services. The suit says the mandate violates core religious and moral convictions. Diocese Attorney Patricia Gibson says in a statement the suit is "not about whether people have access to services, but rather about the freedom to practice religion without government interference."
The health care law, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, contains a religious exemption, but the diocese says the definition of a religious employer is so narrow it excludes Catholic hospitals, schools, universities and social service providers. The diocese contends that for Catholic institutions to quality under they exemption, they would have to stop serving non-Catholics in need and stop employing non-Catholics. Gibson says the suit asks the federal court to find the Department of Health and Human Services in violation of the First Amendment as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky says in the statement that he "cannot remain silent while the rights of Catholics to practice their faith is being so gravely threatened."
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