EWTN Sues U.S. Government
February 9, 2012 at 8:39 AM (PT)
EWTN GLOBAL CATHOLIC NETWORK (EWTN) filed a lawsuit on FEBRUARY 9th in U.S. DISTRICT COURT in BIRMINGHAM, AL against the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES (HHS), HHS Secretary KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, and other government agencies.
The lawsuit is seeking to stop the imposition of a 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 20th.
"We had no other option but to take this to the courts," said EWTN Pres./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," said WARSAW. "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."
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.
EWTN is available in over 200 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. The network is the largest religious media network in the world through direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM and FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, website, electronic and print news services, and publishing.