Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said that while that organization “advocates the observance of all just laws…I want to make it clear to you today that we will disobey this mandate.”
In a letter setting forth official policy on the matter, Fr. Pavone wrote, “Neither Priests for Life as an organization, nor any one of our administrative team or Board of Directors, nor I personally, consent to provide, pay for, advocate, counsel, refer, or in any way tolerate or cooperate with any process, plan, exchange of money or services, or any other activity that would enable a person to engage in the use of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, or sterilization.”
The group does not qualify for a one-year exemption available to religious organizations to “adapt” to the mandate. “We are not ‘religious’ enough for this administration,” he said.
Faced with the option of violating its conscience or incurring fines up to $100 a day per employee beginning today, Priests for Life is standing by its convictions.
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“Whether or not the government decides to eventually impose fines on us when our health insurance policy is renewed in a few months is not the issue,” Fr. Pavone wrote. “The issue is that as of today, as far as the government is concerned, we have to provide health insurance coverage for practices that are morally objectionable.”
The pro-life Catholic group had long signaled its impending defiance of what it considers an unjust and unconstitutional law.
“We don’t need a year, nor do we need a moment, to determine what we are going to do, or to ‘adapt’ to the rule,” Fr. Pavone said early this year. “You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it.”
The organization sued the Obama administration in February. The administration is expected to file a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed today, something Fr. Pavone says will fail.
The victory of Hercules Industries over the administration’s lawyers in obtaining an injunction against the HHS mandate gives Priests for Life reason for optimism. The ruling, made by a Carter-appointed judge who served in the Peace Corps, established that a private employer may have legal standing to object to the mandate on statutory grounds.