Priests for Life, EWTN sue US gov’t for unconstitutional mandate


Document Publication: CBCP for Life, Philippines

Publication Date: February 11, 2012

MANILA, Feb. 11, 2012 – “The rule is unjust. You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it.”

This is what Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of the New York-based organization Priests for Life, said today, referring to the new law that requires employers to provide health insurance coverage for sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs even when these violate their consciences or religious beliefs.

As a result of the forced coverage, Priests for Life will file a lawsuit against the Obama administration, Pavone announced today.

“It’s unthinkable that President Obama would force Americans of any faith to violate their consciences. Yet here he is, arrogantly imposing these regulations that clearly discriminate against Catholics and all Christians, as well as people of any faith who believe in the sanctity of innocent human life. This has clearly become a human rights case – and is no longer just a partisan political football,” the priest said in an official statement released February 9.

Much of mainstream media’s reportage of the Obamacare issue has focused on Catholic hospitals, schools and religious organizations and the mandate’s effect on them. Pavone pointed out, however, that the new law for employers “does not just affect Churches, religious groups, and health care institutions; it affects virtually all health care plans and all employers, across the board.

“We at Priests for Life are opposing this mandate as employers, not as a religious group. Religious freedom is not a right just of religious groups; it’s a right of every American,” he continued.

“Moreover, the exemption for this mandate is so narrow that we have been informed by legal counsel that we do not even qualify for it.”

Noted civil rights attorney Charles LiMandri, who is representing Priests for Life in the group’s lawsuit against President Barack Obama, said, “This is the first time in history any administration has used brute force to compel someone to violate his conscience or moral convictions. It’s unheard of. It’s also antithetical to the core American principles of religious liberty and freedom from invasions of privacy.”

‘Enough is enough’

While the international pro-life group and its legal counsel prepare for the case, a global television network has filed a lawsuit to halt the imposition of the birth control mandate and to have the court declare the rule unconstitutional.

Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) Global Catholic Network filed the lawsuit today which names Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the United States Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), and other federal agencies, as defendants, according to a report at National Catholic Registrar.

“Under the HHS mandate, EWTN is being forced by the government to make a choice: either we provide employees coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and violate our conscience or offer our employees and their families no health insurance coverage at all. Neither of those choices is acceptable,” stated EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw in an official press release.

“We are taking this action to defend not only ourselves but also to protect other institutions – Catholic and non-Catholic, religious and secular – from having this mandate imposed upon them.

“There is no question that this mandate violates our First Amendment rights,” Warsaw continued. “This is a moment when EWTN, as a Catholic organization, has to step up and say that enough is enough.”

The lawsuit was filed on EWTN’s behalf by Mark Rienzi, Kyle Duncan, and Erik Kniffin from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Same coercive element in RH bill

Provisions that imply notably similar conscience violations are contained in the Philippine reproductive health (RH) bill presently being debated  in both chambers of Congress, thereby generating growing resistance from concerned citizens.

Among the vehemently opposed provisions in the measure is the requirement for employers to provide reproductive health services to employees.

The bill also proposes the procurement and distribution of the full range of birth control supplies and a mandatory comprehensive sex education program for all private and public schools from Grade 5 to 4th year high school. These shall be implemented using taxpayers’ money – regardless of the religious convictions of taxpayers.

In a recent CBCP for Life report, Business World columnist Atty. Jemy Gatdula pointed out that the RH bill deprives Filipinos of the Constitution-guaranteed freedom to freely exercise their religion. (CBCP for Life)


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