Priests for Life is back in court to fight for religious freedom.
On behalf of the national pro-life ministry, the American Freedom Law Center filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the mandate that Priests for Life insurance plans must provide contraception, abortifacients and sterilization services to its employees.
Today, Priests for Life will welcome Representative Michele Bachmann for a religious freedom Web cast to discuss the case and talk about how people can help to safeguard the right to freedom of religion and the even more fundamental right to life itself.
Priests for Life was the fourth organization to file a lawsuit against the mandate in February 2012. The court protected Priests for Life from the effects of the mandate, but declined to rule on its merits because the Obama administration promised that accommodations for faith-based employers would address the organization’s concerns. Those accommodations, released in June, still do not provide Priests for Life the protection it needs from covering the objectionable drugs and services as part of their health plans.
“As we predicted from the outset, the accommodation turned out to be no accommodation at all,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life.
The lawsuit alleges that the regulations violate the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by forcing religious organizations to violate religious beliefs.
The new lawsuit names as plaintiffs, along with the Priests for Life organization itself, the following individuals: Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director; Janet Morana, Executive Director, and Alveda King, Director of African-American Outreach.
“Our concerns are not resolved just because the insurance carrier pays for the services that violate our Catholic faith,” Father Pavone explained. “The fact is that Priests for Life still becomes the gateway through which people can have insurance coverage for some of the very things that our international ministry was formed to combat.”
Morana noted that, beyond Priests for Life’s religious objections, there are health concerns as well, since the birth control pill has been labeled a Class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
“We care about our employees at Priests for Life,” she said. “We would never provide something for them that was both morally wrong and physically hazardous.”
Dr. King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., said the Obama administration’s insistence on free contraception is an affront to civil rights.
“There are racist and eugenic roots to this thinking,” King said. “Efforts to control the population always target minority and lower-income groups. We will not sit still and allow this to happen.”
Robert Muise, co-founder and senior counsel of the American Freedom Law Center, said, “Despite his rhetoric about protecting the right of conscience, President Obama continues his war against religious liberty in order to promote his progressive, liberal agenda. Indeed, progressive liberals view pregnancy as a disease to be ‘prevented’ by contraception and ‘cured’ by abortion. By forcing religious organizations to participate in this culture of death agenda, the Obama administration is violating a core freedom enshrined in the Bill of Rights.”
Catholic groups are not alone in objecting to the contraception/abortifacient mandate. David Yerushalmi, also a co-founder and senior counsel of the American Freedom Law Center, said: “As an orthodox Jew who objects to this mandate on religious and constitutional grounds, I can say with confidence that observant Jews are as opposed to Obama’s assault on religious liberty as are those in the Christian communities across the country. In this battle, we all stand as one.”
Today’s web cast, which can be accessed online or by phone, will feature Bachmann as well as Father Pavone, Morana, and King.
“As one of the first organizations to launch a lawsuit against this unjust mandate, Priests for Life is more than ready to bring this battle to the next level with today’s new filing,” Father Pavone said. “I am more than confident of victory, not only because of the expertise of the American Freedom Law Center, but because we are fighting for what America itself stands for: freedom, and above all, life.”
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On the Net:
Sign up to join the webcast at PriestsforLife.org/Webcast
Priests for Life vs. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may be found at http://www.priestsforlife.org/pdf/complaint-priests-for-life-v-dhhs.pdf