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Nearly five-year legal battle ends in victory for private law school that wishes to operate according to its Catholic beliefs

Related Case: Ave Maria School of Law v. Azar

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A federal district court issued an order Wednesday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against a Catholic law school in Florida represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys. 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. Wednesday’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.

“Ave Maria School of Law no longer has to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs that it teaches and espouses, and it is no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these items without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”

“Ave Maria has demonstrated, and Defendants [with the federal government] concede, that the promulgation and enforcement of the contraceptive mandate against Ave Maria through any means that require Ave Maria to provide or facilitate the provision of coverage for contraceptive goods or services to which it holds sincere religious objections violate and would violate Ave Maria’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…,” the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Ft. Myers Division, wrote in its order in Ave Maria School of Law v. Azar, adding that the “public interest in the vindication of religious freedom favors the entry of an injunction.”

Other federal district courts have issued similar orders in recent weeks for Christian colleges and universities in OklahomaIndiana, CaliforniaIowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. 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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