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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 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 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, 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 Arguments

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 lawsuits.

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 procedures.

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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