IRONDALE — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by the Roman Catholic television channel EWTN against parts of President Barack Obama's Affordable Health Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."
U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of Birmingham dismissed the case because the regulations to be put in place by Obamacare weren't "ripe" — the regulations were still being formulated and revised, and it's too early to challenge them just yet.
EWTN, the Irondale-based channel made famous by its founder, Mother Angelica, had sued to stop the provisions of the law that force employers to provide contraception and abortion-inducing drugs as part of employee health-care plans. Roman Catholic teachings specifically oppose abortion and contraception.
The suit was filed against the federal Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary Kathleen Sibelius.
In a statement by the broadcaster, EWTN's leadership said the decision was not a shock.
“While we are extremely disappointed that Judge Blackburn did not rule on the constitutional issues that were at the heart of the EWTN lawsuit, we are not surprised by the decision,’ said Michael P. Warsaw, the channel's president and CEO.
Blackburn's ruling said that EWTN was free to file suit again once the appropriate regulations are in place, if there are still objections.
The suit was filed on EWTN's behalf by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which says on its website that it has filed more than four dozen federal lawsuits opposing various parts of Obamacare, mostly regarding contraception and abortion provisions. Other lawsuits filed by the Becket Fund are on behalf of various private religious colleges and universities, such as Wheaton College, and also retailer Hobby Lobby, whose owners also hold strong religious beliefs which oppose so-called "morning after" pills.