Friday, October 24, 2014

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Judge Rules against EWTN’s Legal Challenge to HHS Mandate

Religious freedomA district court judge ruled on June 17 that Catholic television network Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) is not exempt from the HHS mandate requiring insurance coverage of abortifacients, contraception, and sterilization procedures, Catholic News Agency reported.

EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw said in a statement posted on the network’s website that EWTN was “extremely disappointed” by the decision of Judge Callie Granade of the U.S. District Court for southern Alabama.

“The opinion issued is clearly inconsistent with the decisions reached in nearly all of the cases decided to date,” he said in the statement. “The fact that the court has dismissed the serious issues of conscience and religious freedom that EWTN has raised is very troubling.”

“As an organization that was founded to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, we do not believe that contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and voluntary sterilization should be defined as health care,” he continued. “We simply cannot facilitate these immoral practices.”

Warsaw said in the statement that EWTN is appealing the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who had joined EWTN as a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, reportedly said the state would continue standing with the Catholic organization, stating, “Alabama has a proud history of protecting our First Freedom.”

Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Senior Counsel Lori Windham reportedly said, “This decision is out of step with the overwhelming majority of decisions in similar cases nationwide,” as more than 80 percent of cases brought against the mandate have been in favor of religious objectors.

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