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Court: Obama Admin Can’t Make Pro-Life Group Pay Fines for Not Obeying HHS Mandate

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/31/13 7:19 PM

National

In a huge victory for Priests for Life, a pro-life organization, a federal appeals court has issued a ruling saying it doesn’t have to pay massive fines to the federal government for not obeying the HHS mandate, which forces religious groups and companies to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs for their employees.

An emergency injunction granted late this afternoon in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit means that Priests for Life will not have to obey the contraception mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act as its appeal is being heard. It also means that, tomorrow, Priests for Life will not have to cancel health insurance for its employees.

The decision comes after a judge tossed the pro-life organization’s lawsuit.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said he is grateful  his organization is free, temporarily at least, from having to comply with the unjust mandate or face steep fines by failing to comply when the ministry’s new insurance policy goes into effect on Wednesday.

“We would not have complied with this mandate in any case, as it promotes the very culture of death that Priests for Life works to combat,” Father Pavone said. “We are grateful for this temporary relief and look forward to a permanent injunction once the appeal is fully heard.”

“Our lawsuit was among the very first ones in the country and the necessity to launch it shows that religious freedom in America is in grave danger.  We have to take action.”

On Dec. 19, Priests for Life learned that the judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had ruled in favor of the government. Within an hour Priests for Life filed for the emergency injunction that was granted today.

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Father  Pavone said that what the Obama administration has tried to do through the HHS mandate – which he called a “blatant act of tyranny” – is to give the federal government the power to determine what is and what isn’t important in an individual’s religion; that is not the government’s role.

Father Pavone concluded, “There have already been significant victories in the courts against the HHS mandate, and we have no doubt that Priests for Life ultimately will prevail in this historic fight.”