EWTN Sues U.S. Government To Stop Contraception Mandate
Network Asks Court to Stop Order to Pay for Immoral Services
EWTN Global Catholic Network filed a lawsuit February 9 in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Alabama against the Department of Health & Human Services, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and other government agencies seeking to stop the imposition of the contraception mandate as well as asking the court for a declaratory judgment that the mandate is unconstitutional. EWTN is the first Catholic organization to file suit since the final HHS rules were published by the Obama administration on January 20, 2012.
"We had no other option but to take this to the courts," says EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw. "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."
The lawsuit was filed on EWTN's behalf by Mark Rienzi, Kyle Duncan, and Erik Kniffin from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
"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," Warsaw continued. "The government is forcing EWTN, first, to inform its employees about how to get contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs, a concept known as forced speech. To make the matter worse, the government then will force EWTN to use its donors' funds to pay for these same morally objectionable procedures or to pay for the huge fines it will levy against us if we fail to provide health care insurance. There is no question that this mandate violates our First Amendment rights. This is a moment when EWTN, as a Catholic organization, has to step up and say that enough is enough. Our hope is that our lawsuit does just that."
The Becket Fund previously filed similar lawsuits on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, a small Catholic liberal arts college in Belmont, N.C., and Colorado Christian University, an interdenominational Christian liberal arts university near Denver, which demonstrates that this is not just a Catholic issue. Both suits were filed prior to the HHS rules being finalized in January.
"When the government recently mandated that all private group health plans cover certain abortion drugs (namely, Plan B and ella), as well as related education and counseling, [our clients] knew that they could not obey both the government's mandate and their own religious convictions," said Rienzi, who focuses his practice at the Becket Fund on violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, free speech, and the free exercise of religion. "The mandate has been sharply criticized from across the political spectrum, and from religious leaders of a variety of faiths."
Duncan, a former Louisiana Solicitor General and General Counsel of the Becket Fund, said that without a change in the rules, EWTN could be forced to pay more than $600,000 for the "privilege" of not underwriting these services.
"This mandate is particularly hard on Catholics because Catholic organizations, such as hospitals, schools, social service agencies, media outlets and others, serve people regardless of their religious beliefs," Warsaw said. "We serve others not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic. "
Family, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has an online petition which asks the Administration to stop the contraception mandate. Please join with us in fighting for religious freedom. To sign the petition, please go to http://www.becketfund.org/hhs/
Eat, Pray, Talk, Love! Don't Miss EWTN's New Season Preview!
Imagine being able to watch a talk show with a genial psychologist host who actually dispenses advice in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church!
Imagine no longer! "Living Right With Dr. Ray" is exactly that and more. And it's just one of 10 new shows premiering in March on EWTN. There's also a cooking show, a prayer show for kids, a show featuring Catholics whose love for Jesus kept them true to the Faith in the face of torture and death, new cuts of the renowned series "Catholicism," and much more!
For a sneak peek, tune into "EWTN Season Preview" with Host Doug Keck. (Airs 11 p.m. ET; Tuesday, Feb. 14; 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Feb. 15; and 10:30 a.m. ET, Friday, Feb. 17.)
Also, new in Home Video this month: Theology of the Table: The art of the table and the essence of the Mass! Join EWTN Producer and French Chef Daniel Rabourdin and Fr. Mark Mary, MFVA, who take you from the backyard garden to the kitchen to the dining room table as they emphasize how food refreshes and renews us for a deeper participation in the Holy Eucharist. Find it at http://bit.ly/z0avJv.
God bless you Family!