Geneva College v. Azar

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Friday, July 06, 2018

Description:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration on behalf of Geneva College and the Seneca Hardwood Lumber Co. The lawsuit challenges the administration’s mandate that religious employers provide abortifacients (along with sterilization and contraception) at no cost to employees regardless of religious or moral objections.

Court orders end to abortion-pill mandate for Pennsylvania Christian college

More-than-six-year legal battle ends in victory for private college that wishes to operate according to its beliefs
Friday, July 06, 2018


Attorney sound bite:  Gregory S. Baylor

PITTSBURGH – A federal district court issued an order Thursday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against Geneva College, a Christian college in Pennsylvania represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. The order also declares that the mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Obama-era mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception through their health plans under threat of heavy penalties. The Department of Justice, under the Trump administration, abandoned its defense of the flawed mandate, which the Department of Health and Human Services implemented during the previous administration.

“Religious organizations have the freedom to operate peacefully according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Today’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.

“Geneva College no longer has to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs it teaches and espouses, and it is no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”

In its order in Geneva College v. Azar, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ordered the federal government to cease enforcing the mandate and declared “that defendants—the United States Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor, along with their respective Secretaries—violated Geneva College’s rights under RFRA….”

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case, consolidated with several other similar cases, back to the lower courts for potential resolution by the parties. ADF attorneys and allied attorneys continue to litigate numerous other lawsuits against the mandate.

Brad Tupi, one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, served as local counsel for Geneva College in the case.

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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Additional resources: Geneva College v. Azar

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Friday, July 06, 2018

Previous news releases:

  • 2016-05-16: US Supreme Court sends nonprofit abortion-pill mandate cases back to lower courts
  • 2016-04-12: Non-profits to High Court: Yes, coverage without violating religious liberty is possible
  • 2016-03-29: US Supreme Court asks for additional briefs in non-profit abortion-pill mandate cases
  • 2016-03-23: US Supreme Court completes oral arguments in non-profit abortion-pill mandate cases
  • 2016-02-22: Christian colleges to Supreme Court Wednesday: Govt can’t mandate abortion pill coverage
  • 2016-01-13: Diverse coalition affirms freedom for non-profit religious groups, opposes harsh govt mandates
  • 2016-01-05: Christian colleges to Supreme Court: Govt can’t mandate abortion pill coverage
  • 2015-11-06: Supreme Court agrees to tackle abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’
  • 2015-03-31: ADF attorneys may appeal ruling forcing Christian college to provide access to abortion pills
  • 2014-11-18: 3rd Circuit to hear Christian college’s case against abortion-pill mandate
  • 2014-09-04: Obama admin. throws in the towel in multiple abortion-pill mandate appeals
  • 2013-12-23: Abortion pill mandate suspended for Pa. college's employee health plan
  • 2013-06-18: Abortion pill mandate suspended for Pa. college's student plan
  • 2013-05-09: Court reinstates Christian college’s suit against abortion pill mandate
  • 2013-04-19: Court blocks abortion pill mandate against Pa. family business
  • 2013-03-07: Court says abortion pill mandate challenge in Pa. can proceed under First Amendment
  • 2012-10-30: Obama lawyers to hack away at freedom of Pa. college, lumber co. Wednesday
  • 2012-02-21: ADF, Geneva College challenge abortion-drug mandate
  • 2012-02-20: ADF, Geneva College to reveal lawsuit against Obama mandate Tuesday

  • Elsa Spear: The Zubik case is not about birth control (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 2016-06-11)
  • David Cortman & Greg Baylor: Decision looms in pivotal religious liberty cases at Supreme Court (Washington Examiner, 2016-05-09)
  • Kevin Theriot: What the contraceptive mandate has to do with iPhones and soldiers (The Federalist, 2016-03-22)
  • Kerri Kupec: The Supreme Court sleeper case that everyone should be watching (Washington Examiner, 2015-09-30)
  • Kevin Theriot: The Geneva College case: “Edelweiss” and rights of conscience today (Constituting America, 2015-04-21)

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