Priests for Life, a Catholic organization against abortion and euthanasia, went to federal court Monday to defend their right to oppose restrictions on religious freedom which they believe the Health and Human Services (HHS) birth-control mandate of the Affordable Care Act imposes. National Director Fr. Frank Pavone released a statement regarding the organization's reasoning and efforts to show that the federal government is creating an undue burden of conscience for organizations which believe that abortions are immoral.
The HHS mandate under the Affordable Care Act forces employers to provide contraception and abortive drugs for their employees at no cost. Exemptions to the rule are made for churches and religious organizations; however, there is not an exemption for organizations run by Christians who oppose the legislation. Though they are not officially classified as a religious organization, Pavone argues, "Our organization exists to build a culture of life, based around exactly the opposite mentality ... a culture in which every life is welcomed and protected."
Priests for Life is faced with a rather difficult challenge: to comply with a law which violates their beliefs or to drop healthcare coverage for their employees altogether. "The mandate we are opposing requires us, come January 1, to include coverage for contraceptive and other immoral 'services' in the health care plan we provide for our employees," says Fr. Pavone.
Priests for Life was told that they could sign a document objecting to the contraceptive measures on the basis of their religion (perhaps to alleviate conscience), but that they would still have to provide the coverage for employees in accordance with the HHS mandate. Pavone says that the organization will drop all employee healthcare coverage if forced to comply. "The integrity of our conscience [requires] us not only to say we disagree with the government's goal of expanding access to objectionable practices, but in fact to work against that goal, and to avoid doing anything to advance it," he says.
Hobby Lobby, a for-profit organization run by a Christian family, is also enduring a legal battle in opposition to the legislation. According to Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/12/10/religious-organizations-challenge-contraception-mandate-in-federal-court/?intcmp=latestnews, as many as 80 other lawsuits have been filed against the HHS mandate, including one recently filed by the University of Notre Dame.
The Priests For Life organization shares the persecuted apostles' sentiments in Acts 5:29: "We will obey God rather than men," Pavone says.