“The final rule issued today is inadequate because it appears to have changed nothing,” said EWTN President & Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw.
Specifically, it imposes the same narrow definition of a church, does not expand the exemption beyond churches, and still provides a meaningless “accommodation.” In short, it appears to have ignored the unprecedented number of public comments made against this HHS Mandate.
The proposed rule released in February of 2013 separated organizations into churches, eligible organizations, and everyone else. Under that proposed rule, religious organizations were fully exempt, eligible organizations received an accommodation, and everyone else was mandated to pay for abortion-causing drugs, contraceptives, and voluntary sterilization procedures. EWTN filed public comments strongly arguing that these services and drugs are not health care, are validly objectionable on grounds other than religious beliefs, and that the rule was faulty for allowing only churches to be fully exempt while leaving organizations like EWTN on shaky ground, unable to reliably determine if it even qualifies as an eligible organization. The proposed rule also failed to show that the “accommodation” provided for eligible organizations did anything to actually accommodate reasonable objection to the mandated services.
Despite this news, we are encouraged by the recent court victories for Tyndale Publishers and Hobby Lobby because these cases demonstrate that the rule unfairly limits religious liberty and first amendment rights. EWTN and its attorneys at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty will continue to assess the options at this time.
Said Warsaw: “EWTN remains committed to fighting this senseless mandate.”
EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 32nd year, is available in over 225
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.