Over 85,000 File Comments on HHS Mandate

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Americans have the right to petition their government.

Eighty-five thousand of us took advantage of that right by commenting on the latest version of the HHS Mandate. This isn’t the first go-round of this process where the mandate is concerned. Back in August 2011 when the initial rule was issued, 147,000 commenters, most of them again the Mandate, filed comments.

It is mind boggling how much political capital the Obama administration has expended on this outrageous attempt to subvert the First Amendment. One of the many things that amazes me is the President’s willingness to play games with the American people by misrepresenting the issue and deliberately deepening the divides of the culture wars that are damaging us as a society. His allegiance to Planned Parenthood evidently knows no bounds.

If there’s one thing I know about politics, it’s that you don’t quit until the fight is over. This fight won’t be over until we have preserved the right to religious freedom for all Americans.

This article from the National Catholic Register gives a run-down of the history of this fight so far.

WASHINGTON — More than 85,000 parties have filed comments ahead of today’s 11:59pm Eastern time deadline to respond to the federal government about the latest version of its mandate that forces employers to provide contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization in their employee health-insurance plans.

“There is still a lot of energy behind this in the Catholic community,” said Anthony Picarello Jr., associate general secretary and general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which urged Catholics and people of good will to submit their comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

More than 147,000 comments — most critical of the mandate — were previously filed when the government’s initial rule was issued in August 2011 and when the Obama administration proposed its first accommodation in February 2012.

The bishops’ March 20 report said last year’s proposed accommodation was inadequate and that the administration’s latest version of the mandate still violates religious liberty and conscience rights.

The USCCB filed its 26-page comment with HHS on March 20. The report said the mandate was virtually unchanged and that its religious “exemption“ still excludes most religious organizations and does not remove the burden on religious freedom.

EWTN’s Response

The Eternal Word Television Network also filed a comment, asserting that the government’s proposed rule does not permit anyone other than a church to be exempt from the mandate, noting that religious beliefs and conscience objections are held by people and organizations that are not churches.

The government is essentially forcing EWTN — which owns the Register — and other objecting parties to call contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing pills “good” and to pay for them, without deductibles or co-pays by employees, says the filing, which was signed by EWTN President and CEO Michael Warsaw and General Counsel John Manos.

EWTN’s comment says, “At the heart of this dispute is whether EWTN or persons with similar beliefs must use their bodies and money to support this erroneous belief under government force. The Constitution restrains the government from forcing its beliefs on individuals, particularly any religious belief.”

“Yet this mandate persists to force EWTN and others to part with money and their health under threat of government force,” the filing adds. “Thus this fight is not about providing health care; it is about an erroneous belief, which the government accepts as a foregone conclusion, that contraceptives, voluntary sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs are health care. EWTN refuses, by exercising the rights guaranteed to it by the same government, to swallow this error and merely ‘go along.’”

 

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/tens-of-thousands-beat-deadline-to-protest-hhs-mandate?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-04-8%2023:11:01#ixzz2PyzUbEtA

Mennonite Company Files Suit Against HHS Mandate

If you’re thinking about remodeling, you might consider buying your cabinets from Conestoga Wood Specialities Corporation.

This family-owned company has joined the brave group of Christian businesses who’ve filed suit against the HHS Mandate.

It’s important for many companies to file suit, simply because the more challenges to the HHS Mandate we have out there, the more likely we are to have one stick. For instance, one lawsuit after another has been tossed by judges around the country, but a judge in New York has finally allowed the New York Archdiocese lawsuit to proceed. Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I Am Catholic, has written about this in more detail here.

Our judicial system is such that I think it’s necessary to file many times to have a good chance of success. That’s why the actions of campanies like Conestoga Wood Specialties are a critical factor in the fight against the HHS Mandate.

The owners of this company are Mennonites, but they recognize their kinship with all Christians in essential matters of faith. I would guess that they also recognize their kinship with all Americans in essential matters of freedom.

The First Amendment and religious freedom in America are at stake in the fight against the HHS Mandate. I am grateful to all Christians who are brave enough to join the struggle.

A CNA/EWTN article describing the Conestoga Wood Specialties lawsuit reads in part:

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2012 / 05:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Three Mennonite Christians who own a wood manufacturing company in Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit challenging the federal contraception mandate for threatening their right to religious freedom.

“Being told that we must provide a health plan that includes a provision that violates the Christian beliefs of our family and the Christian values that our company was founded on is deeply troubling,” said Anthony Hahn, president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation.

“Forcing Americans to surrender long-standing, deeply-held principles in order to own and run a business is not merely troubling but unnecessary and unconstitutional,” he added.

Hahn is challenging a federal regulation that requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. Conestoga would be required to comply with the mandate when its insurance plan renews on Jan. 1, 2013.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the mandate by religious employers who argue that it forces them to violate their sincerely-held beliefs. The federal government has argued that businesses which are deemed “secular” do not have the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

On Dec. 4, attorneys with Independence Law Center filed a legal challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Conestoga’s founder Norman Hahn, and his sons Norman Lemar Hahn and Anthony Hahn, who manage the company.(Read more here.)


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