BLOGBREAKING: Supreme Court Hears Challenge to HHS Mandate in Case of Nuns, Christian Universities

By Alliance Defending Freedom Posted on: | March 23, 2016

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has been at the forefront of defending the freedom of religious employers from the Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate. Today the Supreme Court heard the case involving five Christian universities represented by ADF in Zubik v. Burwell. These universities’ cases were combined with several similar cases, all objecting to providing abortion-inducing drugs through their healthcare plans because they believe in the sanctity of human life.

“The government has many other ways to make sure women are able to obtain these drugs, but it has chosen the unlawful and unnecessary path of forcing people of faith to participate in acts that violate their deepest convictions,” said Greg Baylor in a statement after the arguments. “Thousands of businesses and organizations, like Pepsi and Exxon, are already exempt from the administration’s abortion-pill mandate for reasons that have nothing to do with religion, yet the government is forcing them to comply with an unjust edict that tears at the very heart of who they are. We hope the justices will agree that this injustice shouldn’t stand.” 

In 2012, the Obama administration required many employee and student health plans to cover “all FDA-approved contraceptives,” including some that can cause abortions.  If a plan sponsor refused to comply, it would face crippling IRS fines. 

A number of religious business owners challenged the mandate and prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014. The administration created an alternative method of complying with the mandate for non-profit religious organizations that objected to providing contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs and devices as part of their employee and student healthcare coverage.  The administration claimed it was addressing religious organizations’ moral objections.

But it did not.  The so-called “accommodation” still gives access to the objectionable drugs and devices through the employer’s insurers and third party administrators – the very thing these employers object to.  And this alternate compliance mechanism requires the active participation of religious employers in the scheme to provide abortion pills.

“If the government had wanted to, they could have set up plans on the state and federal health exchanges that would allow women to access these particular drugs and devices. In fact, there is nothing stopping the government from doing that even now,” said Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. “Instead, the Obama administration has exempted billion-dollar corporations for reasons that have nothing to do with religion and is targeting Christian institutions like us, under threat of millions of dollars in crippling fines, to carry life-ending drugs like the week-after pill in our employee health insurance plans—against the beliefs and mission of our school and against the beliefs of the Oklahoma Wesleyan women who are eligible for these plans.”

Learn more about what’s at stake for religious freedom in this case, and meet the Christian Universities taking a stand for life.

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