The State of Alabama Monday joined a Catholic media company in a renewed legal effort to challenge the Obamacare contraception mandate.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and the Alabama-headquartered the Eternal Word Television Network filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, charging the Department of Health and Human Services’ "accommodation" for religious employers to provide contraception coverage to their employee through a third party for free violates the companies’ beliefs.
“This isn’t just about who ultimately has to pay. It is about the government forcing EWTN to participate in a scheme that violates its religious beliefs,” Strange said in a statement, according to the Daily Caller
In addition, the suit charges the requirement that all employers offer contraception coverage violates the laws of the State of Alabama.
“I am proud to stand with EWTN to oppose this unconscionable mandate," Strange said, AL.com reported
"The freedom of religion, and to believe as one sees fit, is our ‘first freedom’ under the United States Constitution. The people of Alabama have recognized the importance of this freedom and have enshrined it in their Constitution as well," he said. "Alabama law does not allow anyone to be forced to offer a product that is against his or her religious beliefs or conscience.”
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm, is representing EWTN.
The original lawsuit opposing the mandate was filed Feb. 9, 2012, but was dismissed last March 25, AL.com reported.
“EWTN has no other option but to continue our legal challenge to the mandate,” said the media company's chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw, AL.com reported.
“The revised rules, published by the government in July, have done nothing to address the serious issues of conscience and religious freedom that EWTN has been raising since the mandate was first published last year," Warsaw said. "The government has decided that EWTN is apparently not religious enough to be exempt from the rule.
"It has still placed us in a situation where we are forced to offer contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs as part of our employee health plan or to offer our employees and their families no insurance at all," he said.
Though HHS issued a new set of rules July 23 that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said addressed the concerns of EWTN and others, Warsaw disagreed.
“The government ignored our comments entirely and pressed forward with a rule that changed nothing," he said. "We are in the same position today as we were when the mandate was first published. As an organization that was founded to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, we do not believe that contraception, voluntary sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs constitute healthcare. We simply cannot facilitate these immoral practices."
Over 200 plaintiffs have filed 75 suits against the HHS mandate, the Becket Fund said.
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