As the Albany Diocese and fellow plaintiffs await a response from the New York State Department of Financial Services and several health insurance companies to their lawsuit over mandates that force religious employers to cover abortions in employee health plans, diocesan communications director Mary DeTurris Poust told The Evangelist that the public response to the suit has been positive.

"It is getting national attention. People are surprised by what they're learning about this," she stated. "It's an obvious problem: a state agency putting abortion coverage into health insurance policies without legislative process."

In the suit, the Diocese (as well as Catholic Charities) joins with the Ogdensburg Diocese and its Catholic Charities agency, trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, the Episcopal Sisterhood of St. Mary religious order; Catholic Charities of the Brooklyn Diocese, St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church Society of Amherst, First Bible Baptist Church of Rochester; Our Savior's Lutheran Church of Albany, Teresian House Nursing Home in Albany, Albany diocesan employee Renée Morgiewicz and Murnane Building Contractors of Plattsburgh.

The dozen plaintiffs call the DFS move "coercion" that forces religious organizations and individuals to fund abortions. The lawsuit objects to mandates over "model language" for health insurers that requires covering "therapeutic" and "non-therapeutic" abortions, and refers to abortion as "medically necessary" surgery.

Ms. DeTurris Poust told The Evangelist that the DFS and other defendants -- acting DFS superintendent Maria T. Zullo, Capital District Physicians Health Plan, Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, UnitedHealthcare of New York, MVP Health Care, Excellus Health Plan and Independent Health Association -- have 30 days to respond to the complaint, which was filed May 4 in State Supreme Court in Albany County.

"This is not just a Catholic issue and not just a Christian issue. It's an issue for anyone who values their religious freedom," the spokeswoman said. People "should be worried when religious liberty is at risk like this."

Read more about the lawsuit against the abortion mandates here. (KB)