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by Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The American Family Association filed suit in federal court Wednesday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claiming health insurance mandates violate the organization’s religious liberty.

AFA claims the federal mandate requiring employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs on their employees’ health insurance is a violation of its constitutional rights and federal statutes.

The Tupelo-based organization filed the suit against HHS and the department’s secretary Kathleen Sebelius in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. It is represented by the Center for Religious Expression and the Liberty Institute.

In a Wednesday press release, AFA said the mandate under the federal health care law, which includes the morning after pill Plan B, and the week after pill Ella, is in direct conflict with the group’s convictions and mission.

“The mandate is an amoral affront to the very conscience and biblical principles on which the American Family Association was founded,” AFA Tim Wildmon said in the news release. “We feel betrayed by the abuse of government power that forces us to violate our deeply held religious beliefs and practices by funding the taking of innocent life.”

The suit follows a compromise by the Obama administration which allowed exception for churches and other places of worship. However, the compromise does not accommodate religiously focused nonprofit groups, such as AFA.

“The White House could have easily provided religious organizations like the American Family Association with an exemption, like they do churches, but decided instead to compel these organizations to facilitate a practice they find repugnant and contrary to their missions,” said Center for Religious Expression Chief Counsel Nate Kellum.

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