Judge Rules Pittsburgh Catholic Church Doesn’t Have to Comply With HHS Mandate
by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 11/21/13 7:44 PM
In yet another pro-life victory against the HHS mandate that forces churches and religious groups to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions for their employees, a federal judge has ruled that the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh doesn’t have to comply.
Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh made such a stink when he testified in court recently that he received national attention. He said would rather pay fines, no matter how much they might be that be forced to follow the directives of the abortion mandate.
Under the law’s penalties, Catholic Charities would be subject to a daily fine of $100 per employee if Zubik doesn’t sign, said Susan Rauscher, the nonprofit’s executive director. That would total $2 million to $4 million a year for an organization with a $10 million operating budget, she said. As a result, the Pittsburgh and Erie diocese are suing the government, claiming that the requirement violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They’re asking Schwab to temporarily block enforcement of the mandate on their nonprofits while the dioceses pursue the lawsuits.
Today, the judge did just that.
As KDKA in Pittsburgh reports, “A federal judge in western Pennsylvania says Catholic groups don’t immediately have to comply with mandates in the federal health care overhaul law.”
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The ruling comes after the Catholic bishops nationwide, earlier this month, said they would not comply with the mandate.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops today issued a “Special Message” at the conclusion of their fall General Assembly, November 13, in Baltimore. They unanimously passed the special message, which can only be issued as such meetings and strongly condemned the HHS mandate.
They said that, with its “coercive mandate,” the Obama administration “is refusing to uphold its obligation to respect the rights of religious believers.”