Terry Jeffrey

Obama's executive order stated: "Under the Act, longstanding Federal laws to protect conscience ... remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions."

Obama, of course, did not tell the truth at Notre Dame. He did not tell the truth to Bart Stupak. He did not tell the truth in his executive order.

Notre Dame makes this quite clearly in its court filing.

"In stark contrast with the agreement essential to passage of the Affordable Care Act and President Obama's promise to protect religious liberty, the HHS's new guidelines required insurers and group health plans to cover 'all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,'" says the university's complaint.

"FDA-approved contraceptives that qualify under these guidelines include drugs that induce abortions," says Notre Dame. "For example, the FDA has approved 'emergency contraceptives' such as the morning-after pill (otherwise known as Plan B), which operates by preventing a fertilized embryo from implanting in the womb, and Ulipristal (otherwise known as HRP 2000 or Ella), which likewise can induce abortions of living embryos."

Not only did Obama fail to protect the consciences of American Catholics and Catholic institutions, including Notre Dame, he directly attacked their freedom of conscience through a regulation that requires virtually all Catholic lay people to buy, and virtually all Catholic institutions to provide, health-insurance plans that cover, without any fees or co-pay, multiple practices that violate the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Notre Dame states this, too, repeatedly -- and with force -- in its complaint against the Obama administration.

"All of the required 'contraceptive methods' and 'sterilization procedures' violate Notre Dame's well-established and sincerely held religious beliefs that prohibit contraception and sterilization to inhibit procreation," says Notre Dame.

"Notre Dame cannot, without violating its sincerely held religious beliefs, subsidize, facilitate, and/or sponsor coverage for abortifacients, sterilization services, contraceptives and related counseling services, which are inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church," says the university.

"This unprecedented, direct assault on the religious beliefs of Notre Dame and all Catholics is irreconcilable with American law," says Notre Dame.

Three years ago, when Obama spoke at Notre Dame, I optimistically wrote that a rising generation of Americans may see Notre Dame's greatest comeback -- not on an athletic field but in a conflict over fundamental questions of morality on which the Catholic Church takes an inalterable stand.

Well, the Fighting Irish just ran the first play in their comeback drive. It was nothing fancy -- just a crashing blow through the right side of the line, the sort of smash-mouth play a strong and confident team can run for first down after first down until they push across the opponent's goal line.

Americans who love our Constitution and individual liberty should send a volley cheer on high and shake down the thunder from the sky.

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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