NU Online News Service, June 1, 2004, 4:44 p.m. EDT – Catholic Charities of Sacramento Inc. has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether it must include contraceptive benefits in its prescription drug plan.[@@]

Catholic Charities filed the appeal Friday, and California government officials have 30 days to respond, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

The California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 in March that Catholic Charities must offer contraceptive benefits because it serves non-Catholics.

The California Women’s Contraception Equity Act of 2000 exempts churches and church schools from having to provide contraceptive coverage, but it provides no exemption for hospitals, universities, charities or other organizations with religious ties that serve the general public as well as members of a particular religion, the court said.

Bishop William Weigand, head of the Sacramento diocese, says in a statement about the appeal that the California ruling punishes Catholic Charities for serving non-Catholics.

“If we turned our back on the basic teachings of our religion and employed only Catholics, provided charity and social services only to Catholics, educated only Catholics in our universities and treated only Catholics in our hospitals, we would be in compliance with the law,” Weigand says.