Catholic Network Sues Federal Government Over Birth Control Coverage

network A Roman Catholic television network has filed a lawsuit against the federal government. The lawsuit is in response to the requirement that religious oriented hospitals and universities must include coverage for birth control in their employer sponsored health insurance plans. The Catholic Church is opposed to most methods of birth control.

EWTN Global Catholic Network is a television network that is based in the United States. It was launched in 1981. The letters stand for “Eternal Word Television Network”. Since its launch, ETWN Global Catholic Network has become the largest religious media network in the world. It transmits programing 24 hours a day to over 148 million homes in the United States and 144 countries and territories. The network airs family and religious programing, from a Catholic point of view, in both English and Spanish.

This week, the EWTN Global Catholic Network filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This lawsuit is in response to the recent requirement that all employer sponsored health insurance plans must include coverage of birth control. They are seeking to block this rule, and are asking the court to find it unconstitutional.

The television network is not the only entity to file a lawsuit like this. Two religious universities have also filed suits. Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic school in North Carolina, and Colorado Christian University, located near Denver, Colorado, also filed lawsuits against the federal government about the controversial requirement that employer sponsored health insurance must cover the cost of birth control.

This conflict is complex. On the one hand, the Department of Health and Human Services wants to make sure that all American women will have access to birth control (if they would like to use it). There are a plethora of health related reasons why a woman would choose to use birth control.

The use of birth control can help a family to space out the timespan between one pregnancy and the next. This gives the parents time to focus on the newborn, and to build their finances enough to enable them to afford to have a second child later on. Women also use birth control to regulate their menstrual cycles, to prevent especially painful cramps, and to help ease the symptoms of endometriosis.

On the other hand, religious groups, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have a different opinion. The Catholic Church rejects most forms of birth control. They do not approve of the use of birth control pills, and are especially opposed to Plan B (which they equate to abortion). The Catholic Church does approve of the “natural” or “rhythm” method of birth control.

Therefore, Catholic groups, (and Christian groups), feel that religious affiliated hospitals, universities, and other businesses, should be exempt from the requirement that they cover birth control in their employer sponsored health insurance plans. They feel that this requirement forces them to go against their religious beliefs. It is worth noting that churches, and other houses of worship, are exempt from this requirement.

Image by Pamla J. Eisenberg on Flickr