MONTGOMERY — Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange today filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the contraception coverage mandate imposed by the Obama Administration under the healthcare law signed by the President two years ago Friday.
Today’s action—regarding a mandate particularly for contraception coverage—comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear the broader issue of whether the federal government may mandate that individual citizens be required to purchase insurance coverage. Attorney General Strange and other state Attorneys General are challenging the individual mandate in the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear three days of argument March 26-28.
The contraception mandate requires all employers and insurance companies – including those with religious and conscience-based objections – to provide coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures. Among these items are the abortifacients known as the “morning-after pill” and the “week-after pill.” The only religious exemption is a narrow one that applies primarily to churches and other houses of worship. Religious non-profits, schools, universities, and other enterprises – including those who offer critical social services to the needy – do not qualify for the exemption.
The lawsuit that Alabama is seeking to join was filed by Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. (EWTN) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on February 9, and is styled Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al.
The Attorney General explained that the mandate violates federal law and would require state officials to regulate insurance in violation of Alabama law: “The freedom of religion, and to believe as one sees fit, is our ‘first freedom’ under the United States Constitution. 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.”
“The healthcare law signed by President Obama two years ago is taking effect now, and the consequences are dire. The law forces the States to be used as instruments in carrying out the federal government’s unconstitutional policies,” Strange said. “Under the law, States have no discretion. States instead must immediately begin regulating their insurance markets and enforcing federal provisions such as the contraception mandate, without regard to their citizens’ religious beliefs or conscientious objections.”