Court to Rule Whether Catholic Group Must Pay for Contraception

SAN FRANCISCO, California, SEPT. 27, 2001 ( The California Supreme Court has agreed to review an appeals court decision requiring a Catholic charity to comply with a state law demanding employers include contraception in health plans that cover prescription drugs.

The Supreme Court´s six judges voted in private to review the July decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. Catholic Charities of Sacramento argued in a lawsuit filed last year that the law should be set aside because it violates the group´s religious freedom.

But the appellate panel thought otherwise in the first challenge to the law.

The 1999 law “was enacted to eliminate discriminatory insurance practices that had undermined the health and economic well being of women,” the appeals court said in its July ruling, and “does not advance or inhibit religion.”

The appellate court said the decision does not constrain Catholic Charities from advising employees and the public that it opposes contraceptives.