Priests for Life has scored a victory in its challenge to the religious-freedom-busting HHS mandate. Lawyers for the Obama administration stipulated that the pro-life organization would not have to offer contraception, sterilization services and abortifacient drugs through its employee health insurance plan.
Charles S. LiMandri, president and chief counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which filed Priests for Life’s lawsuit against the government in February 2012 (the fourth such lawsuit), said the government changed its stance after a judge in the District Court for the Eastern District of New York said he would be inclined to side with the pro-life group. Priests for Life argued that it was a religious organization that should be exempt from the rule.
The American Freedom Law Center, which filed suit jointly with LiMandri, noted that the agreement came as a result of the court strongly urging the government to enter into the stipulation. If an agreement was not reached by December 21, the court scheduled a hearing for December 26, at which time it was evident the court would order the injunction.
The agreement will stay in effect at least until the government issues new regulations covering contraceptive services under the health care law.
“We are not expecting the government to come up with regulations that we can accept, but this is still an important first step,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. “We were prepared to violate the mandate on Jan. 1, at great expense to our organization. We are very grateful to the court that we did not have to take that step, and we remain confident that this unjust mandate will be entirely and permanently struck down.”
Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.