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Catholic university sues government

Feb. 21, 2012 at 3:56 PM

NAPLES, Fla., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A small Catholic university in Naples, Fla., has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for requiring insurance companies to cover birth control.

Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University and former head of the George W. Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said the federal order undermines the university's religious convictions.

"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 said Tuesday in a statement.

"We are prepared to discontinue our health plan and pay the $2,000 per employee, per year fine rather than comply with an unjust, immoral mandate in violation of our rights of conscience."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the university by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

"The federal mandate puts Ave Maria in a terrible bind," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund. "Either it betrays its faith and covers the drugs, or else it ends employee health benefits and pays hundreds of thousands in annual fines."

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