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Abbott Joins Anti-Birth Control Lawsuit

State jumps into contraceptive fray

By Jordan Smith, Fri., March 2, 2012

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott
Photo by Jana Birchum

Just after he jumped on board with nine other attorneys general to decry President Barack Obama's so-called health insurance birth control mandate as unconstitutional, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott signed on to a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Nebraska challenging the constitutionality of requiring insurers to provide birth control to women. The law, he and six other state AGs argue, impermissibly tramples on the free speech rights of religious organizations that oppose birth control. The lawsuit – joined also by several Catholic plaintiffs, including Pius X Cath­olic High School and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America – argues that the rule requiring insurers to cover birth control without a copay "would coerce religious organizations, institutions, care providers, outreach groups, and social service agencies, among others, to directly subsidize contraception, abortifacients, sterilization, and related services in contravention with their religious beliefs."

And, it continues, "The First Amendment has, for centuries, served as a rampart against government interference with religious liberty." Allowing the birth control rule to stand would break through the protection and "leave countless additional religious freedoms vulnerable to government intrusion and negation through coercion," the plaintiffs argue. The practical effect of the ruling, Abbott said in a press release, will "force" religious institutions to drop health insurance enrollment for employees, thereby adding a burden to state Medicaid programs. "Obamacare's latest mandate ... compels people of faith to act contrary to their convictions," he said. (For more, see "Abbott Balks at Birth Control Mandate," Feb. 17.)

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