The Nine Lawsuits for Religious Freedom
Below is my latest column, The Nine Lawsuits for Religious Freedom –
A Brief Rundown of the Arguments. But before we get to that, let me
give you some other important updates.
April 28th is the Feast Day of St Gianna Beretta Molla who gave up her own
life to save her unborn child. In addition, this year marks the 50th
anniversary of her death. We are in the midst of a special novena prayer
praising the Lord for her. You can find the prayer at
www.StGiannaMolla.com and on that page you will find a link to even more
resources about St Gianna.
We will continue the celebration throughout this year, because on October 4,
2012, we will observe St Gianna’s 90th birthday!
Please join us in this novena and spread the word to your family, friends
and parish community.
Please view my latest YouTube at
http://youtu.be/rZ6bGDqytd4 on which you will be introduced to some of
the members of our Pastoral Team. I encourage you to create a You Tube
account and to subscribe to my channel,
www.YouTube.com/frfrankpavone. You can help make my videos more
available within the YouTube community, you can rate them on YouTube and
comment on them as well.
This week Priests for Life is at the United Nations for the UN Commission on
Population and Development (CPD) which has a week-long meeting on the theme
“Adolescents and Youth” with an emphasis on reproductive health and rights,
defined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to include abortion. For an
update on this and our other work at the UN see
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Praise for our Work
Hi, my name is Jackie. I’m 12 years old and in 7th grade. I met
you in Jacksonville, Florida. Again, I’m 12 and have no job and no way to
get extra cash. I have pulled out $12 out of my piggy bank. I am willing to
do anything to help poor little innocent-loving babies from the pain of
abortion. I will keep you in my prayers and wish you the best because what
you do is right. Keep rocking!
The Nine Lawsuits for Religious Freedom – A Brief Rundown of the
By Fr. Frank Pavone
There are now nine lawsuits, including one brought by Priests for Life, that
have been filed in federal district courts around the country challenging
the Obama administration’s HHS mandate that requires employers to provide
coverage for activities that many of them believe people should not do.
There is value to having multiple lawsuits, because, having been introduced
in different judicial jurisdictions around the country, some may be
victorious and others not, hence setting up a federal conflict that the
Supreme Court is more likely to address.
There are similarities and differences in the legal arguments of the nine
First Amendment – Religious Liberty
The first and most obvious objection to the mandate is that it infringes on
the free exercise of religion which the Constitution guarantees to every
American The mandate forces health insurers, employers, and employees to
violate their own religious faiths by providing or purchasing items and
services that their faiths strictly prohibit. Moreover, it penalizes the
practice of religion by imposing hefty government fines on employers who
stop providing employee health insurance rather than deny their beliefs.
This is exactly the type of government behavior that the First Amendment was
designed to prevent.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
A second argument is that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act (RFRA). This 1993 law stops the federal government from
restricting religious belief unless it can show a “compelling government
interest” for doing so. Providing subsidized abortifacients, birth control,
and sterilization hardly seems to be a “compelling government interest” to
interfere in religion.
First Amendment – Free Speech
Another common cause of action in the nine lawsuits is that the Obamacare
mandate violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. Not only
does the mandate force employers and employees to pay for objectionable
items and procedures, but they also have to fund education and counseling
for those same things. In other words, people of faith would be forced to
endorse with their involuntary financial contributions speech that
contradicts their beliefs.
Administrative Procedure Act
The lawsuits by Priests for Life and others also allege that the Obama
administration’s actions in putting forth the mandate for
abortifacient/contraceptive coverage did not follow proper government
Overburdening State Medicaid Programs
The lawsuit brought by seven states, Bruning v. Sebelius, adds that
state Medicaid programs will be overrun with new enrollees because of the
mandate. The states argue that religiously affiliated employers will either
stop offering health insurance or, because they cannot afford the government
fines for not offering employee health insurance, shut down completely. The
result of either action will be more people without health insurance, which
under Obamacare, will mean more people moving to Medicaid coverage. The
increased financial strain on state budgets will be enormous.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan has pointed out that the courts are likely the best
defense against the HHS mandate. May God give success to the efforts of
Priests for Life, other religiously affiliated employers, religious
individuals, states, and even a private commercial business who have all
brought suits to stop this mandate.
For more information on the mandate and the lawsuits, see
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