March 4, 2013 — The Diocese of Nashville has voluntarily dropped its appeal of a federal court's decision to dismiss its lawsuit challenging the federal contraceptive coverage rules, The Tennessean reports (Gambill, The Tennessean, 3/1).
The diocese and other Tennessee Catholic institutions involved in the suit had argued that the contraceptive coverage rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), violate their Catholic beliefs. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee ruled in November that the groups lacked standing to challenge the rules because they have not been harmed by the regulations. The court also noted that HHS was in the process of amending the rules for faith-based groups. The plaintiffs appealed the ruling in January (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/10).
On Feb. 1, the Obama administration proposed a contraceptive coverage accommodation for religiously affiliated employers. Under the accommodation, the insurer -- rather than the Catholic hospital, university or charity itself -- would be required to issue a separate policy providing no-cost contraception for women. Subsequently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops rejected the proposal.
Details of Dismissal
On Thursday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati approved the diocese's request to withdraw its appeal and dismissed the lawsuit.
Rick Musacchio, director of communications for the diocese, said that instead of filing another suit, the diocese plans to monitor the proposed rules as they are finalized to see how "they develop and ... impact our different entities" (The Tennessean, 3/1).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
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