March for Life appeals ruling against HHS rules that allow it to act consistently with its pro-life mission

Judge froze rules that freed religious, moral objectors from abortion-pill mandate
Monday, January 28, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing pro-life organization March for Life filed a notice of appeal Monday after a federal judge suspended new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rules that protect religious and pro-life organizations that conscientiously object to complying with the abortion-pill mandate.

The previous administration implemented the mandate to force employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide their employees with abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy financial penalties. On Jan. 13, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily suspended the final versions of permanent protections that HHS issued for religious and pro-life organizations.

“The government shouldn’t be forcing anyone to provide drugs and devices that they believe are life-destroying,” said ADF Legal Counsel Denise Harle. “HHS rightly freed organizations like March for Life and the Little Sisters of the Poor from the abortion-pill mandate. We are asking the 9th Circuit to lift the lower court’s order and affirm these protections, which simply ensure that pro-life organizations can pursue their missions consistent with their most foundational beliefs.”

In 2014, March for Life challenged the abortion-pill mandate in March for Life v. Burwell, which came to a close in September 2018 when the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its appeal of a 2015 permanent injunction, and a federal court agreed to dismiss the case.

HHS issued temporary rules in October 2017 that were designed to free objecting employers from the abortion-pill mandate and pave the way to potential resolution of numerous outstanding lawsuits. On Oct. 6, 2017, the same day that HHS issued its temporary rules, the state of California—later joined by Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Virginia—filed the lawsuit State of California v. Azar in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to challenge the rules. In December 2017, March for Life asked the court to allow it to participate in the case, and the court granted that request.

HHS then published final versions of the new protections, but the district court blocked them before they were supposed to go into effect on Jan. 14.

Brian R. Chavez-Ochoa of the Chavez-Ochoa Law Offices in Valley Springs, California, one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as co-counsel on behalf of March for Life.

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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