Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a motion Thursday to intervene in a lawsuit against mandatory contraception coverage on the grounds that it violates religious freedom, which he called our ‘first freedom.’
The lawsuit was brought by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), a Roman Catholic cable television network based out a monastery in Irondale, Ala. EWTN objects to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule that requires employers and insurance companies to cover contraception, including the emergency contraceptive known as the “morning after” pill. The new rule was proposed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which Strange and other state attorneys general are fighting at the U.S. Supreme Court level.
“The freedom of religion, and to believe as one sees fit, is our ‘first freedom’ under the United States Constitution,” Strange stated in a press release. “The people of Alabama have recognized the importance of this freedom and have enshrined it in their Constitution as well. Alabama law does not allow anyone to be forced to offer a product that is against his or her religious beliefs or conscience.”
After a public outcry regarding the contraceptive mandate, the Obama administration offered a compromise that exempts certain employers from covering contraception and allows employees of exempted companies to seek contraception coverage directly from insurers at no additional cost. The administration also agreed not to enforce the mandate for a year. But this was not enough to allay an attempt at intervention from Strange:
“The so-called ‘compromise’ proposed by the Obama Administration isn’t a compromise at all,” Strange stated. “The mandate is final. We only have the federal government’s assurances that they will not enforce the mandate for a short period of time while they work out the details of a compromise rule that would still force religious insurers and employers to provide coverage that violates their religious beliefs and consciences.”
Strange’s press release and the motion to intervene in Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al. are below. Additional documents, including the complaint, briefs and exhibits, can found on the Attorney General’s website.