Marc A. Thiessen in the Washington Post about EWTN’s suit against the federal government:
Don’t pick a fight, the saying goes, with a man who buys ink by the barrel. Here’s a corollary for President Obama: Don’t pick a fight with an elderly, retired, cloistered nun who founded the world’s largest religious media network.
That is precisely the mistake Obama made when his administration announced that religious employers like Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) would be forced to provide coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs — a violation of their deeply held religious beliefs. The Obama policy, EWTN declared in a federal lawsuit last week, is “un-American, unprecedented and flagrantly unconstitutional.” …
Moreover, many religious employers (including EWTN) “self-insure.” This means the religious organization acts as its own insurance company — paying for care directly and using insurers only to manage benefits and process claims. Many religious organizations took this step so they could opt out of state mandates to provide morally-objectionable services. As a result, in the case of religious employers like EWTN, there is no insurance company to provide the “free” abortion drugs and contraceptives Obama has mandated. …
Hannah Smith, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which is representing EWTN, told me, “The president’s announcement changes nothing from a legal standpoint. He had a final rule that violates the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so the Becket Fund is full steam ahead in our lawsuits challenging the mandate.” (Becket is also suing on behalf of Belmont Abbey College, a Benedictine Catholic college in North Carolina, and Colorado Christian University, a nondenominational Christian University in Colorado).
From the EWTN site:
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.” …
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.”
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