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Colorado Ruling Endangers Women’s Health

July 27, 2012

Catholics Demand Respect for Employees’ Consciences

A Federal District Court in Colorado ruled today that a private air-conditioning manufacturer can discriminate against its employees and refuse to cover contraception as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Catholics for Choice is dismayed by the injunction in favor of Hercules Industries, a for-profit, private, heating and air conditioning company owned by a Catholic family. The injunction allows the company’s executives to deny affordable coverage to employees for contraceptive services and counseling as required by new federal regulations going into effect next Wednesday. This exemption constitutes court-sanctioned discrimination against Hercules’ employees by allowing its executives’ personal objections to contraception to trump their employees’ own beliefs and consciences. The judge stated that this ruling only applied to Hercules, but there is no guarantee that other cases and other judges will not extend the ruling more broadly.

Jon O’Brien, the president of Catholics for Choice said, “The bishops and their representatives have stated from the beginning that they will not rest until every institution—religious, secular, for-profit, non-profit, “Taco Bell” or Catholic diocese—is allowed to refuse contraceptive coverage to its employees. This ruling demonstrates just how far the Catholic hierarchy and its conservative allies are willing to go in their quest to eliminate contraceptive coverage for all people. Some believe that caving to the bishops by allowing employers at certain “religious institutions” was merely a commonsense, thoughtful compromise. Some likewise believe that granting an additional accommodation to Catholic hospitals or universities would be similarly reasonable. As these suits demonstrate, however, the bishops and their allies will never be satisfied with the miles they’ve already been given; they will not rest until every single worker must ask their bosses for permission to access affordable, sometimes life-saving contraceptive coverage.