Library inside Ave Maria University
Naples, Florida (News-Press) -- Five months after their original case was dismissed, Ave Maria
University in Naples has again filed suit against the federal
Their charge: President Obama's health care
overhaul violates the school's religious beliefs because it allows women
access to free contraceptives.
Ave Maria's first attempt
to quash required implementation of the Affordable Care Act was filed in
February 2012 and thrown out by a U.S. district court judge in April.
part of Obama's health care overhaul, a federal mandate requires nearly
all health care plans to eventually pay for contraception and
Ave Maria President Jim Towey reiterated
Thursday what he said last year when the original suit was filed:
University officials find it objectionable the federal government asks
them to be complicit in providing and paying for birth control.
judge upon dismissing the case said the government was continuing its
efforts to work with the school and the regulations for the overhaul
were not yet finalized.
Towey said Thursday he believes the government made no effort to compromise or accommodate the school's religious beliefs.
school says the mandate will be in full effect on Jan. 1, and if it
does not comply, the university says it faces fines of $100 a day, per
employee. The school of about 870 students employs around 140. The
current insurance plans do not provide
contraception, Viagra or vasectomy.
would $7 million come from? From Heaven? I don't know where the money
would come from," Towey said. "To try to cover a fine like this ... I
have a hard time imagining how that's in the best interest of the
country to shut down a university that's adhering to its own religious
Bishop Frank Dewane of the Diocese of Venice last year sent a letter to Catholics urging them to fight.
cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law. People of faith
cannot be made second-class citizens. Do not be misled by attempts to
turn this into a debate about church teaching or the morality of
contraception. The issue here is religious liberty and freedom of
conscience," he wrote.
The university has enlisted help of
the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has won several cases
regarding First Amendment rights.
Towey said next week the school will file a preliminary injunction on the mandate.
studies say the overwhelming majority of Catholic women practice birth
control, and a poll released last year showed 58 percent of Catholics
believed their employers should be required to provide health plans that
"The issue is not about
contraception, the issue is about religious liberty," Towey said after
filing of the first lawsuit. "The fact that we have individuals using
birth control is their personal choice.
"That is why we are
fighting it, and we will fight it to the end, and if it means that
ultimately the university will no longer provide health care insurance
for its employees, then that's what we'll do."