by Carol Glatz
MOBILE, Ala. (CNS) – The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), joined by the state of Alabama, has filed another lawsuit challenging the federal mandate requiring most employers to provide coverage of contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge.
The suit was filed Oct. 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama in Mobile.
Last March, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the Irondale-based television network’s lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham, said in her March 25 ruling that EWTN had sufficient standing to file the suit because of the “real prospect” the global network could be harmed by “a concrete regulatory mandate.”
However, she held the suit was not ripe for judicial review, and she did not want to issue a final ruling because proposed rules governing the mandate had not yet been finalized. “At that point, if EWTN still has objections, it may then file suit,” she said.
Final rules were issued by HHS June 28. EWTN and many other Catholic and religious employers said they still do not go far enough to accommodate their moral objections to complying with the mandate.
“EWTN has no other option but to continue our legal challenge,” said Michael P. Warsaw, the network’s chairman and CEO.
The final rules do “nothing to address the serious issues of conscience and religious freedom” that EWTN, the U.S. Catholic bishops and many other religious institutions have raised since the mandate was first issued in January, 2012, he said in a statement.