Press Release

Nuns lead charge against New York abortion mandate State officials back in court to force religious groups to pay for abortions

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – A diverse coalition of religious groups will be at the New York Court of Appeals next week to continue their fight against the state’s abortion mandate. In Diocese of Albany v. Harris, a group of Anglican and Catholic nuns, Catholic dioceses, Christian churches and faith-based social ministries sued New York after it mandated they cover abortion in their employee health insurance plans in violation of their religious beliefs. After state courts left the mandate in place, Becket, Jones Day, and Tobin and Dempf, LLP, asked the Supreme Court to step in. In 2021, the Justices reversed the lower courts’ rulings and told them to reconsider the case. 

When the New York State Department of Financial Services initially proposed the abortion mandate, it promised to exempt employers with religious objections. However, after facing pressure from abortion activists, New York radically narrowed the exemption to cover only religious groups that primarily teach religion and primarily serve and hire those who share their faith. This rule does not apply to most religious ministries that seek to serve all people, regardless of faith.

After New York courts refused to stop the mandate, the religious groups asked the Supreme Court to take their case. In 2021, the Court reversed the unfavorable rulings from New York state courts and told them to reconsider in light of Becket’s landmark victory in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The case is now back before the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. Noel J. Francisco, former U.S. Solicitor General and partner-in-charge at Jones Day’s Washington office, will argue on behalf of the religious groups at the hearing next week.  

A decision is expected later this year.

Oral Argument in Diocese of Albany v. Harris

Arguing before the court: 
Noel J. Francisco, partner-in-charge at Jones Day’s Washington office 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at approximately 3:40pm ET

New York Court of Appeals
20 Eagle St.
Albany, NY, 12207
Watch the livestream here: 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7219.