March for Life prevails over Obamacare’s abortion-pill mandate

Court says administration can’t force organization, its employees to act contrary to their own pro-life beliefs
Monday, August 31, 2015

Attorney sound bite:  Matt Bowman  

WASHINGTON – A federal court issued an order Monday in March for Life v. Burwell that permanently prohibits the Obama administration from enforcing its abortion-pill mandate against the pro-life organization, founded to end abortion, or its employees, who also oppose the mandate. The order is the first one to be granted in favor of an organization opposed to the mandate for pro-life reasons based on moral convictions instead of religion.

March for Life, which holds its well-known pro-life march each year in Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit through its Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys in July 2014 and requested a permanent injunction against the mandate. The mandate forces employers, regardless of their moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy financial penalties through the IRS.

“Pro-life organizations should not be forced into betraying the very values they were established to advance,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “This is especially true of March for Life, which was founded to uphold life, not to assist in taking it. The government has no right to demand that organizations provide health insurance plan options that explicitly contradict their mission.”

March for Life is a non-profit organization founded in 1973 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade. Every year in January, March for Life holds a peaceful march to the U.S. Supreme Court and Capitol Hill to mark the decision until it is overturned.

The organization’s strongly-held moral beliefs against abortion forbid it from furthering abortion through health insurance coverage it offers to its employees, including coverage for hormonal birth-control items it believes can endanger early embryos. March for Life’s beliefs are based solely on non-religious ethics and science, while its two employees who joined the suit additionally claimed faith-based reasons for objecting to the mandate.

“If the purpose of the religious employer exemption is, as HHS states, to respect the anti-abortifacient tenets of an employment relationship, then it makes no rational sense-indeed, no sense whatsoever to deny March for Life that same respect,” explains the decision.

“Americans should not be forced to choose between following their deepest convictions and submitting to unlawful and unnecessary government mandates,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “We hope other courts that consider similar cases will issue their own orders upholding the right of pro-life organizations to be free from this type of government coercion.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating numerous other lawsuits against the abortion-pill mandate and won the case Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell at the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
 
  • Pronunciation guide: Bowman (BOH’-min), 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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