EWTN Denied Protection
Network Filing Appeal of US District Court Decision
Irondale, AL – U.S. District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade of Mobile, Ala. issued an opinion on June 17 denying EWTN Global Catholic Network protection from the government mandate that it must provide coverage of contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization as part of its employee health care coverage.
“We are extremely disappointed with the decision reached by the court in this case,” said EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw. “The opinion issued is clearly inconsistent with the decisions reached in nearly all of the cases decided to date. 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. We simply cannot facilitate these immoral practices,” said Warsaw. “We have no other option but to continue our legal challenge of the mandate,” Warsaw continued. “We are making an immediate appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.”
EWTN filed its original lawsuit on Feb. 9, 2012 after the government issued the first set of rules for the mandate. That first suit was dismissed on technical grounds by Federal Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of Birmingham, Ala. on March 25, 2013. EWTN filed its current lawsuit October 28, 2013 against the Department of Health & Human Services and other federal agencies seeking to stop the government from imposing the HHS contraception mandate and protect EWTN’s constitutional rights. The State of Alabama, through its Attorney General Luther Strange joined EWTN as a co-plaintiff in the new lawsuit.
“Alabama has a proud history of protecting our First Freedom,” said General Strange. “We have been honored to continue that tradition by standing with EWTN and protecting rights of conscience for all Alabama citizens, and we will continue to support EWTN as it appeals the district court’s disappointing decision.”
“This decision is out of step with the overwhelming majority of decisions in similar cases nationwide,” said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed both lawsuits on EWTN’s behalf. “Over 80% of cases have protected religious objectors from this mandate.”
EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 33nd year, is available in over 230 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. With its direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, Internet website www.ewtn.com, electronic and print news services, and publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. The Becket Fund has a 17-year history of defending religious liberty for people of all faiths. Its attorneys are recognized as experts in the field of church-state law, and won a 9-0 victory against the federal government at the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.