ANN ARBOR, MI, March 13, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Erin Mersino is a lawyer with the Thomas More Law Center. When she entered service to the pro-life, pro-family, and pro-freedom movement three years ago with the center, she had no idea that one battle would become personal.
“I am extremely humbled and proud to be representing Karen and Rod Mersino – my parents-in-law, and two of the people most dear to my heart,” she told LifeSiteNews.
There have been over 90 lawsuits filed against the federal government to protect religious liberty since the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) mandated coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception by employers. One of them was filed by the Mersinos and their business, Mersino Management Company.
The lawsuit was filed by the Thomas More Law Center on March 22, 2013. The Mersinos oppose the HHS mandate because, according to Erin, it “forces the Mersinos to pay for and provide, as part of their employee health plan, products and services that directly violate the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”
Erin Mersino, who just had her second child, argued against the mandate while she was eight months pregnant. Ironically, she was defending Weingartz Supply Company in the fall of 2012, against the government's argument that avoiding pregnancy is critical for women because being pregnant harms the careers of women.
Her appearance helped secure the second injunction in the nation against the HHS mandate.
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For her efforts, which included representation of 23 plaintiffs, she was given the “Defender of the Faith” award earlier this year by Legatus. Legatus is the nation's largest coalition of top Catholic-owned businesses.
She has also defended Father Ray Leonard, the Naval Chaplain contractor who was threatened with arrest and banned from celebrating Catholic Mass on federal property during the October 2013 partial federal shutdown.
Erin Mersino is a graduate of Ave Maria Law School, where she met her future husband and fellow lawyer, Paul. “I know my faith would not be as strong as it is today without the excellent education I received in law school,” she said.
With over 100 employees, Erin's parents-in-law – “I consider them my parents,” she says – faced enormous fines for standing up for their faith. Erin says the mandate is “very oppressive” because of this. “Fines can range from low into the millions per year to very high into the millions per year,” she told LifeSiteNews.
The mandate requires violators to pay a fine of $100 per employee per day.
And that's not all. Erin says that “if they don't pay the fines, one penalty is that people could be thrown in jail.” She is also concerned that the mandate will increase how many people are “escaping the business world” in order to avoid violating their religious beliefs. She says clients have told her they would rather leave successful business ventures than pay for abortion-causing drugs.
Erin says the Mersino's case is “in the appellate process” and is being considered by the 6th Circuit Court. “We expect to hear a decision from the United States Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga challenges prior to our appeal being heard.”