Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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.


No ‘accommodation’: new abortion-pill mandate scheme still violates religious freedom

ADF files supplemental brief to lawsuit against Obama administration
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Gregory S. Baylor  |  Kevin Theriot

DENVER – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a supplemental brief to a pending lawsuit against the Obama administration on behalf of four Christian universities in Oklahoma. The brief addresses a new rule issued by the administration for the abortion-pill mandate that alters the way faith-based non-profits can invoke a so-called “accommodation,” under which the beneficiaries of their insurance plans can access religiously objectionable drugs, devices, and counseling.

In December 2013, a federal court ruled in Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius to suspend the enforcement of the abortion-pill mandate against the four Christian universities. The administration’s mandate 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. The four universities--Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University--specifically object to providing coverage for abortifacients.

“The government should not force religious organizations to be involved in providing abortion pills to their employees or students,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “The best way to respect everyone’s freedom would have been to extend the existing religious exemption to religious non-profits in addition to churches. The administration has failed yet again in its duty to uphold the freedoms guaranteed to every American under the Constitution and federal law.”

“The interim final rules do not remove or substantively take away the basic requirement to which the Universities object,” the ADF brief states. “They must still file a document causing their health plan, insurer, and/or third party administrator (TPA) to be commandeered by the government and used as a mule to deliver certain objectionable items.”

“The Universities are therefore still forced to do something to which they religiously object: provide insurance, with that insurer or TPA being the channel of objectionable coverage, by means of the Universities’ letter to the government identifying that insurer,” the brief continues.

“All Americans should oppose unjust laws that force people--under threat of punishment--to give up their fundamental freedoms in order to provide insurance,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “That’s no different for these Christian colleges, which simply want to abide by the very faith they espouse and teach. The government is forbidden from punishing people of faith for making decisions consistent with that faith.”
 
  • Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TAIR'-ee-oh)
 

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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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Previous news releases:

  • 2013-12-23: Abortion pill mandate stopped for four Okla. universities
  • 2013-09-20: Christian universities in Okla. challenge abortion pill mandate

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