Over two years ago, the federal Department of Health and Human Services unveiled the “HHS mandate,” a regulation requiring private health insurance to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive and sterilization methods, including the “emergency contraceptives” that cause early abortions by acting (as the FDA confirms) to prevent an embryo from implanting in the womb. The mandate co-opts the existing employer-insurance system to encourage greater use of contraception and sterilization. This, the government asserts, will improve the health of women and their children and put women on a more equal footing with men.

Certain religious employers, however, take a sharply different view of the morality (and the promised benefits) of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, and they cannot in good conscience cover them in their insurance. Beginning in late 2011 with a lawsuit by Belmont Abbey College, some two hundred religious universities, dioceses, charities, businesses, and individuals have filed over sixty lawsuits seeking to enjoin the mandate and restore their religious freedom.

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