The national director of Priests for Life said that his organization rejects the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit regarding its objection to the HHS contraception mandate and will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Father Frank Pavone objects to the decision on November 14, written by Obama-appointee Judge Cornelia Pillard, in which the court upheld the Obama administration’s most recent “accommodation” for religious employers who object to being forced by the government to provide free contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs to employees through health insurance plans.
In addition to Priests for Life, the court also ruled against The Catholic University of America, Thomas Aquinas College, and several other Catholic organizations that filed legal challenges to the new rules for the HHS mandate that is part of ObamaCare.
As explained by Catholic News Agency, the changes to the mandate permit religious employers, such as schools, hospitals, and other organizations, to notify the federal government of their objection to providing contraceptive coverage by filing a form. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is then to arrange for the coverage of the same employees with the insurance carriers.
The prior “accommodation” required the employer himself to authorize its insurance carrier to provide the free contraception and services.
In an op-ed at Aleteia on Saturday, Pavone asserted, “To ask a group of priests to cooperate in the government’s plan to expand access to birth control and abortion-inducing drugs is about as contrary to religious freedom as you can get.”
Pavone has argued since the filing of his organization’s legal challenge in 2012 that the administration’s “mechanism…for us to opt out is, in itself, objectionable to our religious and moral convictions.”
If the government is sincere in wanting to enable us to opt out of something because it violates our moral conscience, it is reasonable for us to insist that we be given a way to opt out that does not itself violate our moral conscience. And whether it violates our conscience is for us to say, not the government.
Friday’s decision mischaracterizes our objections. It says, “What Plaintiffs object to here are ‘the government’s independent actions in mandating contraceptive coverage, not to any action that the government has required [Plaintiffs] themselves to take.'”
“That is not correct,” Pavone asserts. “What we object to are the actions the government is asking us to take…We refuse to take actions that are necessary to help the government ‘fill the gap’ to provide drugs that kill babies and harm women.”
The three appellate judges on the panel, who were all appointed by Democrat presidents, rejected the claim put forward by the plaintiffs. Judge Robert Wilkins is also an Obama appointee.
Stating that the Obama administration’s revised regulations “do not impose a substantial burden” on the plaintiffs, Pillard wrote:
Even if, as Plaintiffs aver, we must take as dispositive their conviction that the accommodation involves them in providing contraception in a manner that substantially burdens their religious exercise, we would sustain the challenged regulations. A confluence of compelling interests supports maintaining seamless application of contraceptive coverage to insured individuals even as Plaintiffs are excused from providing it. That coverage offers adults and children the benefits of planning for healthy births and avoiding unwanted pregnancy, and it promotes preventive care that is as responsive to women’s health needs as it is to men’s. The accommodation requires as little as it can from the objectors while still serving the government’s compelling interests.
Pavone dismisses the argument that accepting the accommodation to the mandate is not a “substantial burden.”
“When…the only options the government leaves a citizen are to violate his/her religion or violate the law, that is the same thing as making the practice of Catholicism illegal,” he states. “That’s a substantial burden.”
In December of 2013, the Democrat-led Senate voted to confirm Pillard to the D.C. Circuit. As Breitbart News reported in September of last year, Pillard is known for her flagrant pro-abortion ideology and open disdain for motherhood.
In November of 2013, Breitbart News wrote that Pillard has argued abstinence-only education in school is unconstitutional and condemned beliefs that sex should be reserved for marriage.
Additionally, Pillard wrote that those who oppose abortion are automatically anti-woman, and condemned the use of ultrasounds because they give women “deceptive images” that lead to them to believe their unborn child is a person.
Pillard is an avid supporter of the HHS mandate, having stated that all insurance companies should be required to provide contraception in order to save women from being treated as “presumptive breeders.”