Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell

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Friday, November 06, 2015

Description:  Four Christian universities in Oklahoma have filed suit against the Obama administration’s mandate that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.  Read more >>

Supreme Court agrees to tackle abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’

ADF attorneys represent Penn. Christian college, four Okla. Christian universities
Friday, November 06, 2015

Attorney sound bite:  Gregory S. Baylor

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to weigh in on the Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate and its misnamed “accommodation” for some non-profit organizations. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent a Christian college in Pennsylvania and four Christian universities in Oklahoma that asked the high court to review appeals court decisions that upheld the mandate in Geneva College v. Burwell and Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell. The cases are two of seven that the Supreme Court agreed to take up.

The mandate forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide health plans that create access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. Geneva College in Pennsylvania and the four universities in Oklahoma – Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University – specifically object to facilitating access to abortifacients.

“The government has no legitimate basis for forcing faith-based organizations to be involved in providing abortion pills to their employees or students,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “These Christian colleges simply want to abide by the very faith they espouse and teach. They should not be forced to choose between giving up their fundamental freedoms and paying financial penalties. That is not a choice Americans should have to face.”

“We look forward to the argument before the Supreme Court, which we hope will reverse the appeals courts’ rulings and ensure that people of faith are not punished for making decisions consistent with that faith,” added ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.

ADF attorneys and allied attorneys represented Conestoga Wood Specialties and its owners in their victory against the abortion-pill mandate at the U.S. Supreme Court last year. While that case addressed the mandate as it applies to for-profit family-run businesses, these cases pertain to the mandate as applied to non-profit organizations. Although the administration argues that executing and submitting a so-called “accommodation” form insulates religious nonprofits from providing abortifacients, ADF attorneys explain that is not the case.

The form directly involves the Christian colleges in providing abortifacients in multiple ways by, for example, (1) altering their health plans to allow for the provision of such drugs or devices, (2) requiring them to notify or identify to the government who their insurers or third-party administrators are so that they can provide the drugs or devices on the colleges’ behalf, (3) officially authorizing their TPA as a plan and claims administrator solely for the purpose of providing the items, and (4) requiring them to identify and contract with a TPA that is willing to provide the drugs and devices to which they religiously object.

As the reply brief filed last month in the SNU case explained, “the government cannot answer one simple yet vital question: If it is true that religious nonprofits are totally removed from providing abortifacient contraceptives, why force them to participate in the accommodation scheme…? The answer is that the so-called accommodation does not isolate the Universities from the provision of abortifacients at all.”

ADF attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating numerous other lawsuits against the mandate.

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: Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell

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Friday, November 06, 2015

Previous news releases:

  • 2015-10-15: Supreme Court soon to decide whether to tackle abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’
  • 2015-07-24: ADF to Supreme Court: Strike down abortion-pill mandate’s sham ‘accommodation’
  • 2015-07-14: 10th Circuit rules Christian universities must violate their own beliefs
  • 2014-12-05: 10th Circuit to hear Christian universities’ challenge to abortion-pill mandate
  • 2014-09-10: No ‘accommodation’: new abortion-pill mandate scheme still violates religious freedom
  • 2013-12-23: Abortion pill mandate stopped for four Okla. universities
  • 2013-09-20: Christian universities in Okla. challenge abortion pill mandate

  • Gregory S. Baylor: ACA mandate places costly burden on freedom (Oklahoman, 2015-11-13)

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