Pro-life group, Christian college ask court to uphold HHS rule protecting them from abortion pill mandate

ADF files friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of March for Life, Dordt College
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

BOSTON – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court-brief Tuesday in federal court on behalf of the March for Life and Dordt College in support of the current administration’s HHS rule exempting them from the previous administration’s abortion pill mandate.

Both March for Life and Dordt College have been involved in separate lawsuits challenging the mandate that forces employers, regardless of their moral convictions, to provide abortion-inducing drugs to their employees under threat of heavy financial penalties. Issued last October, the new HHS rules protect the nonprofits and pave the way to potential settlements in their lawsuits.

“All Americans should have the freedom to peacefully live and work consistently with their deeply-held beliefs without fear of government punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Greg Baylor. “The HHS rule follows the Constitution, federal law, and precedents by which federal agencies have protected freedom of conscience. March for Life and Dordt College have vital interests in ensuring that these protections are not jeopardized so that they can continue to fulfill their respective missions.”

On the same day that HHS issued its interim final rule protecting nonprofit religious and pro-life organizations, the state of California—later joined by Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Virginia—filed the lawsuit State of California v. Hargan in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to challenge the rule. Massachusetts filed its own lawsuit, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Both cases raise issues affecting both March for Life, a non-sectarian pro-life organization, and Dordt College, a Christian institution of higher learning in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Filed by ADF and ADF-allied attorneys on behalf of March for Life and Dordt College, the brief argues that "[f]ederal government agencies have for many years adopted regulatory protections of religious exercise…. For example, during World War I, the executive branch went beyond the narrow draft exemptions enacted by Congress to protect conscientious objectors from military service….”

The brief also cites National Park Service regulations limiting recreational access to Devil’s Tower Monument in order to protect and accommodate Native American religious exercise: “For these reasons, the Court should reject Massachusetts’ claim that the Departments [HHS, Treasury, and Labor] exceeded their authority in promulgating the IFRs [Interim Final Rules].”

Andrew D. Beckwith of the Massachusetts Family Institute is one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF and is serving as local counsel for March for Life and Dordt College, who support dismissal of the lawsuit, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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