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St. Louis Catholic institutions file birth control suits

Archbishop Robert Carlson
Bill Raack | St. Louis Public Radio file photo
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson speaks at a press conference on May 21, 2012.

Updated 5:10 p.m.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis and Catholic Charities of St. Louis are among dozens of Roman Catholic institutions suing the Obama administration over a mandate that most employers provide birth control coverage.

The archdiocese and Catholic Charities filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. The other suits from around the country were also filed Monday.

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson held a press conference Monday. He said that the requirement announced in January violates religious freedom. 

"It is not a women’s issue. It is a human issue, a moral issue and an American issue. Never before has the United States government forced the Catholic Church to provide a product that violates our religious beliefs," Carlson said. "I cannot, I will not stand by and watch this happen to the flock entrusted to my care."

The original exemption for religious groups allowed houses of worship to opt-out, but keeps the requirement in place for religiously affiliated charities. Obama offered to soften the rule so that insurers would pay for birth control instead of religious groups. However, the bishops say the accommodation doesn't go far enough.