In a statement released on Friday, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced that some of the leading Catholic institutions in the United States are filing a brief in support of the Becket Fund’s appeal to the D.C. Circuit on behalf of Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College as they challenge the HHS mandate.
The Becket Fund represents many of the religious institutions and Catholic organizations currently suing the Obama administration over the mandate that requires all employers, including religious institutions, to provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients to all their employees through their health insurance plans. In its press release, the Fund indicates that The Catholic University of America, the Catholic Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. have all urged the courts, in their brief, to address the violation of religious liberty as presented in the HHS mandate.
According to the Becket Fund, the brief filed by these Catholic institutions “comes less than one day after the Vice President of the United States stated” during his debate with Congressman Paul Ryan:
[L]et me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution–Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital–none has to either refer for contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.
“But the facts are exactly the reverse,” asserted Kyle Duncan, General Counsel of the Becket Fund. “Under the mandate, nearly every Catholic hospital, charity, university, and diocese in the United States–along with millions of institutions of other faiths–must refer for, must pay for, and must act as a vehicle for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. If they do not, they face millions in fines. That is a fact.”
In addition to the Catholic institutions, thirteen states, The Cato Institute, the American Civil Rights Union, The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, among others, have also filed on Friday on behalf of Wheaton and Belmont Abbey colleges.
Currently, there are now over 35 separate lawsuits that challenge the HHS mandate.