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California court tells Church to provide birth control

The California Supreme Court has ruled that the Catholic Church's charitable institutions in the state must provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans for employees.

The court ruled 6-1 that Catholic Charities is no different than other businesses in the state and must abide by a state law that requires employer-provide health care plans to include contraceptive coverage.

While the law exempts "religious employers", such as churches, the court concluded that because Catholic Charities provides "secular" services such as counselling, low-income housing, and immigration services to the public without directly preaching about Catholic values, then the law applies.

The court said that Catholic Charities employs workers and serves people of various religions, diluting the need to account for the Church's teachings.

The ruling could also affect thousands of employees at Catholic hospitals and other charitable organisations throughout California. 20 states have similar laws requiring such birth control coverage.

California court tells Church to provide birth control (Catholic World News 2/3/04)

Catholic Group Must Provide Birth Control (Associated Press/ 2/3/04)
Birth control imposed on charity (BBC 2/3/04)
Court backs coverage for birth control: Catholic Charities can't claim religious exemption (San Francisco Chronicle 2/3/04)
Catholic Plan Must Include Birth Control (Associated Press/Guardian 1/3/04)

3 Mar 2004