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USA    CATHOLIC CHARITIES SUES OVER CALIFORNIA CONTRACEPTIVE LAW
Catholic Charities of Sacramento has filed suit to block a state law that includes most religious institutions in a requirement that employers pay for contraceptives in prescription insurance plans.
    The suit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court on 21 July, argues that the law, which took effect at the beginning of this year, violates the California Constitution as well as the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It asks the court to declare the law unconstitutional and to impose a permanent injunction barring its enforcement.
    The law requires all employers in the state that provide workers with insurance for prescriptions to include contraceptives among covered pharmaceuticals. It is written so that insurance companies are held responsible for including contraceptives in employer policies.
    The law's ``conscience clause'' allows organizations that fit a narrow definition of ``religious employer'' to be exempted from the requirement. But Catholic Charities and many other of the state's church-affiliated institutions do not qualify for the exemption, the lawsuit notes.
    CNS
   
2/8/00



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