Atlanta, Ga., Feb 3, 2015 / 13:20 pm
On Wednesday, Feb. 4, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hear oral arguments in a case brought by EWTN Global Catholic Network against the federal contraception mandate.
"EWTN looks forward to being able to make our case against the government's contraceptive services mandate," said EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw.
"As we have said repeatedly throughout this process, contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and voluntary sterilization are not health care and the government should not force EWTN to provide them as part of our employer-sponsored health plan."
The EWTN lawsuit challenges the federal HHS mandate, which requires most employers to either provide or facilitate employee insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.
More than 300 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits across the country charging that the mandate violates federal and constitutional protections of religious freedom.
EWTN initially filed a lawsuit against the regulation in 2012. However, that suit was dismissed on technical grounds in March 2013. The current lawsuit was filed in October 2013.
In June 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade of Mobile, Ala., ruled against EWTN, and the network filed an appeal. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals then issued a temporary injunction protecting EWTN from the mandate while the case continued in the court system, protecting the network from penalties of $35,000 per day during that time.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2014 ruled against the mandate as it applied to Hobby Lobby, a closely-held corporation whose owners also had religious objections to some of the mandate's requirements.
Noting the Hobby Lobby decision, Warsaw noted, "the Supreme Court made it clear that the government has an obligation to use the least restrictive means of accomplishing its goals."
EWTN has raised similar arguments in application to its own case, he said.
"The government should not be allowed to hijack EWTN's health plan for its own purposes. We are confident that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals will recognize that the government should not be able to force us to act contrary to our beliefs."
Established 34 years ago, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world, reaching over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories.
The network includes television, radio and a publishing arm, along with a website and both electronic and print news services. Catholic News Agency is a service of EWTN.