"It is a sad day when an American citizen or organization has no choice but to sue its own government in order to exercise religious liberty rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution,'' Ave Maria president Jim Towey, left, said in a conference call a few minutes ago. "As an American Catholic, I am in disbelief that I have to choose between being a good Catholic and a good citizen. I will not, and the University will not, accept this false choice. The federal government has no right to coerce the University into funding contraceptive services that include abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization, in the health plan we offer our employees."
Towey, former head of the Bush Administration’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and a former aide to Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles, said the school's 129 employees are free to decide on their own whether to use birth control, but that Ave Maria is prepared to discontinue its health plan and the the $2,000 per employee annual fine rather than comply with a law that violates Catholic teachings.
"What was announced as an accomodation or comporiise was simply a fig leaf to provide a little bit of cover for some left of center Catholics and some other allies of the administration," said Towey.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is handling the Ave Maria suit. It had already filed similar suits on behalf of Catholic and Protestabt institutions including Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, Colorado Christian Universuity, and Eternal Word Television Network.