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Zubik let down by dismissal of Obamacare lawsuit

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 12:10 p.m.

Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik said Wednesday he is disappointed that a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit the Catholic diocese filed against the Obama administration but is encouraged it has the right to sue again.

The lawsuit said the administration cannot require the diocese to offer birth control services to employees as part of the federal health care mandate,

“We will now await in good faith the accommodation to religious freedom that the federal government has claimed it will offer,” Zubik said. “However, we must all be aware that no modification to the original Department of Health and Human Services mandate in regard to religious freedom has yet been made.

“I do want to make clear, however, that we cannot and will not negotiate away our constitutional rights to religious freedom and religious expression.”

The diocese in May filed a lawsuit saying the federal government was violating its religious freedom by ordering it to facilitate and, in some cases, pay for abortion-inducing drugs, birth control and other services to which it objects.

U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry said in his 28-page opinion issued on Tuesday that the diocese has not been harmed by the health insurance law because most of the regulations do not take effect until Jan. 1, 2014.

The judge said the “defendants have actively begun the process of amending the regulations to address the specific religious objections which plaintiffs raise in this litigation.”

The lawsuit, which the diocese filed in May, named Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and their respective federal agencies as defendants.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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