This morning the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on the government mandate that employee health plans must provide contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs as part of their coverage. On Feb. 9, 2012, EWTN was the first organization to file a lawsuit challenging this mandate shortly after the original rules were promulgated by the government. That lawsuit is still pending in the U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala.
We have analyzed today’s notice with our legal team from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and the initial conclusions are not promising. First, this is simply a notice of a proposed rule; it is not an actual rule that changes anything. Second, while the proposed rules might expand the mandate’s religious exemption for some organizations affiliated directly with the Church, it does not appear that EWTN will qualify for this exemption. Third, the proposed rules have not dealt with the concerns of self-insured health plans like EWTN’s. Today’s notice from the government simply kicks this can further down the road.
Sadly, throughout this proposed rule, the government continues to make the erroneous assertion that contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are health care. They are not.
We will continue to study this notice with our attorneys, but are highly doubtful it will provide EWTN with any relief from this immoral mandate. EWTN remains firmly committed to pressing forward with our case in the federal courts and will take all steps necessary to challenge this unjust mandate.