.- Priests for Life announced Feb. 9 that it will file a lawsuit against the U.S. government in order to protect its religious beliefs from the Health and Human Services contraception mandate.
“It's unthinkable that President Obama would force Americans of any faith to violate their consciences,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life.
The announcement comes amid mounting criticism over secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius' Jan. 20 announcement that virtually all employers will soon be required to purchase health insurance plans that cover contraceptives – including abortion-inducing drugs – and sterilization.
Catholic media network EWTN also issued a statement on Feb. 9 detailing its lawsuit against the Obama administration over the federal rule.
Despite being one of the nation's largest pro-life educational organizations, Priests for Life does not qualify for an exemption from the contraception mandate because it educates people of numerous religions – not only Catholics – about issues surrounding abortion and euthanasia.
Priests for Life believes it to be especially qualified to challenge the administration because its mission “to promote and protect life” sharply contrasts with the intention of the HHS mandate to make abortifacients and contraception more widely available.
Civil rights lawyer Charles LiMandri of San Diego will represent Priests for Life in court.
LiMandri is known for his work in the “Mt. Soledad Cross” case in which local atheists tried to have an historic war memorial torn down because it was a religious symbol on public property. LiMandri was also involved in California's Proposition 8 campaign to support marriage defined as between one man and one woman.
The U.S. Catholic bishops, among other religious leaders, have led the rising opposition to the mandate since its announcement.
The White House has failed, however, to offer any concessions to religious groups concerned with protecting their conscience rights.
Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., the U.S. Bishops for Religious Liberty chair, told CNA in a Feb. 8 statement that “no one from the Administration has approached the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops for discussions on this matter of a possible ‘compromise.’”
Schools such as Bellmont Abbey College and interdenominational Colorado Christian University have also raised legal challenges against the Health and Human Services mandate.