February 9, 2012 Print
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Priests, Legislators React to ObamaCare Abortion Mandate

by Karla Dial

As outrage spreads over a mandate in the federal health care law saying religious employers have to provide insurance coverage for possible abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, priests and policymakers alike are seeking various forms of relief to avoid conscience violations.

Priests for Life, an international organization based in New York, announced today plans to sue the Obama administration if it doesn’t revoke the mandate.

“It’s unthinkable that President Obama would force Americans of any faith to violate their consciences,” said Father Frank Pavone, the group’s national director. “Yet here he is, arrogantly imposing these regulations that clearly discriminate against Catholics and all Christians as well as people of any faith who believe in the sanctity of innocent human life. This has clearly become a human rights case — and is no longer just a partisan political football.”

San Diego lawyer Charles LiMandri, who has worked with the National Organization for Marriage in the past, will represent Priests for Life.

“This is the first time in history any administration has used brute force to compel someone to violate his conscience or moral convictions,” LiMandri said. “This case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And we’ll be happy to take it there if need be.”

Meanwhile, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Wednesday urged Congress to start drafting a bill to overturn the mandate immediately.

Though Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., told Fox News on Wednesday that he’d had a closed-door discussion with Obama about the matter and the president was “sticking by what he said,” the White House hinted that some changes might be in order in the near future.

However, if the potential “compromise” is what insiders think it may be, it could actually worsen the problem instead of fixing it: Under a Hawaii law similar to the ObamaCare abortion/contraception mandate, any religious organizations that do not directly cover those services for employees through insurance must refer them to other plans that do.

“The ‘Hawaii Compromise’ is actually worse in some ways than the current mandate,” Becket Fund National Litigation Director Eric Rassbach said in a statement Wednesday. “The current extremely narrow religious exemption at least lets some religious organizations, like churches, out of compliance entirely. The Hawaii Compromise would appear to impose forced speech requirements even on the small sliver of religious objectors who are already exempt.

“Why doesn’t the government just tell people where to get it? Why should there be some obsessive need to force religious objectors to be involved in this? If this were actually about access, the government would do just that. In reality, this is a cram-down of religious individuals and institutions.”

The Becket Fund is also representing, two colleges and a Catholic television network in separate lawsuits against the ObamaCare mandate. The state of Michigan announced it will coordinate friend-of-the-court briefs in these cases.

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