“Though the conference is not a party to the lawsuits, we applaud this courageous action by so many individual dioceses, charities, hospitals and schools across the nation, in coordination with the law firm of Jones Day,” Dolan said in a statement.
A message for comment left at Jones Day's law offices in Cleveland wasn't immediately returned.
HHS issued an interim final rule in August 2011 requiring that employer-based health plans provide contraception coverage with no out-of-pocket cost. The administration failed to fully quell criticism of the policy with a modification in February stipulating that insurance companies would pay for the benefit if employers raised religious objections.
One of those 43 institutions is the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., which filed a 57-page lawsuit (PDF) listing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, among others, as defendants. The school's president, the Rev. Thomas Jenkins, sent a message to the university's community on Monday.
“Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services,” Jenkins wrote.
He added that Notre Dame did “not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the Government not impose its values on the University when those values conflict with our religious teachings.”
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend also filed its own lawsuit and questioned how the government exempted certain institutions from the mandate.
“The government has no place defining ‘religious employer' so narrowly that it only includes houses of worship,” a diocese statement read. “This reduces the freedom of religion to the freedom of worship.”