Southern Nazarene University v. Azar

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Description:  Four Christian universities in Oklahoma 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 >>

Court orders end to abortion-pill mandate for Oklahoma Christian universities

Nearly five-year legal battle ends in victory for private colleges that wish to operate according to their beliefs
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal district court issued an order Tuesday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against four Christian universities in Oklahoma 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 peacefully operate 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.

“These universities no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs they teach and espouse, and they are 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.”

ADF attorneys represent Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University, all of which specifically object to providing abortifacients.

“Plaintiffs have demonstrated, and Defendants now concede, that requiring Plaintiffs to comply with [the HHS mandate], to the extent such compliance contradict[s] Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs, violates their rights protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…,” the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma wrote in its order in Southern Nazarene University v. Azar, adding that “the public interest in the vindication of religious freedom favors the entry of an injunction and declaratory judgment.”

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.

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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Wednesday, May 16, 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
  • 2016-01-12: President of university challenging Obama mandate to be senator’s guest at State of the Union Address
  • 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’
  • 2015-10-15: 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

  • 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)
  • Gregory S. Baylor: ACA mandate places costly burden on freedom (Oklahoman, 2015-11-13)
  • Kerri Kupec: The Supreme Court sleeper case that everyone should be watching (Washington Examiner, 2015-09-30)

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