ADF, Geneva College challenge abortion-drug mandate

Federal lawsuit challenges Obama administration’s latest attack on religious freedom
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ADF attorney sound bite:  Gregory S. Baylor

PITTSBURGH — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration Tuesday on behalf of Geneva College. The lawsuit challenges the administration’s unconstitutional mandate that religious employers provide abortifacients (along with sterilization, and contraception) at no cost to employees regardless of religious or moral objections.

ADF and Geneva College officials announced the lawsuit at a press conference Tuesday. The suit is the second ADF lawsuit filed against the mandate this week.

“The state shouldn’t punish people of faith for making decisions in accordance with their faith,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “Every American should know that a government with the power to do this to anyone can do this--and worse--to everyone.”

“At Geneva College, we only have one Lord, and he does not live in Washington, D.C.,” said Geneva College President Ken Smith. “The First Amendment protects Americans from mandates that require us to act against our own convictions. We find the mandate to provide our faculty, staff, and students with insurance that provides pills to abort babies totally abhorrent and unacceptable. The government shouldn’t be able to force anyone to buy or sell insurance that subsidizes morally objectionable treatments.”

President Obama held a press conference on Feb. 10 to offer a “compromise” under which some religious non-profit organizations would not have to pay for morally objectionable drugs, devices, and counseling. Instead, the employer’s insurer would be required to offer the employer’s employees the same coverage at no charge. The “compromise,” however, does not exist in the rules or guidance Obama issued on Feb. 10, and the administration is not required to formally propose it.

Baylor explained that even if the proposed change did exist and had coherent boundaries, it would still require the employer to facilitate coverage by providing and paying for an objectionable plan, the costs of which would be passed on to the employers and/or employees via premiums.

The new lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Geneva College v. Sebelius, argues that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well as the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences, and professional studies founded in the tradition of the Reformed Presbyterian faith. According to its website, Geneva provides “an academically rigorous education comprised of distinctive and innovative courses. Geneva offers over 40 undergraduate majors and seven master’s degree programs.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.