Press Release

Becket Fund Files Lawsuit for Nun’s TV Network Against Obama’s Abortion Drug Mandate Mother Angelica founded EWTN to spread the teachings of the Catholic Church—not to betray them

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

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Thirty years ago, a cloistered nun named Mother Angelica started a small television network in her monastery garage to spread the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Today, the network she started is suing the federal government for the right to remain faithful to those teachings.

Becket Law filed suit this morning on behalf of Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) against Obama Administration officials who are trying to force the network to pay for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion drugs.

“The federal government cannot force people to violate their religion like this,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel at Becket and a constitutional law professor at the Catholic University of America.  “Mother Angelica founded EWTN to spread the teachings of the Catholic Church—not to betray them.”

Over the last three decades EWTN, has become the largest Catholic media organization in the world.  Now run by lay Catholics, the network refuses to pay for contraceptive services and for drugs that destroy human life.  “If we are willing to compromise our Catholic faith, we are selling the soul of the network,” said Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  “The mission of EWTN is not negotiable.”

The network also rejects the government’s offer last month of another year to “adapt” their consciences to its mandate.  “Maybe they missed the word ‘Eternal’ in the name,” quipped Warsaw.  “Betraying God’s love for every human person—even ones who are small and vulnerable—just isn’t something we’ll ever be able to adapt to.”

EWTN’s case is the third lawsuit brought by Becket challenging the Obama administration’s abortion drug mandate. Becket also represents Belmont Abbey College (a Benedictine Catholic college in North Carolina) and Colorado Christian University (a nondenominational Christian University in Colorado) in similar lawsuits.  To date, the government has sought several extensions in those cases rather than answering the claims.

The mandate has been widely criticized from across the political spectrum and by religious leaders of all faiths.  Senator Marco Rubio recently introduced a bill to amend the healthcare law to instruct government bureaucrats to respect conscience rights in their mandates.

Becket Law is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. Becket has a 17-year history of defending religious liberty for people of all faiths. Its attorneys are recognized as experts in the field of church-state law, and they recently won a 9-0 victory against the federal government at the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Melinda Skea at or call 202.349.7224.