A group of Christian colleges based in Oklahoma are asking the Supreme Court to help them in their battle to stop the Obama administration from forcing them to obey the HHS mandate, which compels them to pay for abortion-causing drugs in their health care plans in violation of their conscience.
The mandate 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 by the Internal Revenue Service and other federal agencies if the mandate’s requirements aren’t met.
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon have the opportunity to consider the ADF lawsuit Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday that responds to Obama administration arguments against high court review of the abortion-pill mandate and its misnamed “accommodation” for some non-profit organizations. ADF represents four Christian universities in Oklahoma that filed suit against the administration.
On July 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit upheld the mandate, which forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide health plans that create access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties. The four universities – Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University – specifically object to facilitating access to abortifacients and filed a petition with the Supreme Court on July 24. The justices are scheduled to consider the petition and six others at their Oct. 30 conference.
“The government has no business forcing faith-based organizations to be involved in providing abortion pills to their employees or students,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “These Christian universities simply want to abide by the very faith they espouse and teach. They should not be forced to choose between giving up their fundamental freedoms or paying financial penalties. The Supreme Court should reverse the 10th Circuit’s decision to ensure that people of faith will not be punished for making decisions consistent with that faith.”
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Although the administration argues that executing and submitting a so-called “accommodation” form insulates religious nonprofits from the provision of abortifacients, the reply brief filed in Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell explains that is not the case.
The form directly involves the Christian universities in providing abortifacients in multiple ways by, for example: (1) altering their health plans to allow for the provision of such drugs or devices, (2) requiring them to notify or identify to the government who their insurers or third-party administrators are so that they can provide the drugs or devices on the universities’ behalf, (3) officially authorizing their TPA as a plan and claims administrator solely for the purpose of providing the items, and (4) requiring them to identify and contract with a TPA that is willing to provide the drugs and devices to which they religiously object.
As the reply brief explains, “the government cannot answer one simple yet vital question: If it is true that religious nonprofits are totally removed from providing abortifacient contraceptives, why force them to participate in the accommodation scheme…? The answer is that the so-called accommodation does not isolate the Universities from the provision of abortifacients at all. Rather, as Petitioners have explained…, the accommodation is a ‘long and winding extension cord the government uses to power its contraceptive mandate,’ which not only ‘gets its power from…nonprofits’ health plans,’ but which the government forces ‘nonprofits to plug in…themselves by signing the self-certification or providing the alternative notice.’”
The Alliance Defending Freedom scorecard that has been tracking the potential demise of the Obama administration’s abortion-pill mandate in the courts now shows the mandate losing by an overall score of 72 to 16.
“No one should support a government mandate that forces people to choose between their conscience and their careers,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Just as the Supreme Court rejected the mandate in the case of family businesses like Conestoga Wood Specialties and Hobby Lobby, it should reject the administration’s attempt to foist it on non-profit groups like faith-based charities, Christian colleges and universities, and pro-life advocacy organizations.”
In September, the Obama administration renewed its attempt to force a Catholic religious order, the Little Sisters of the Poor, to comply with the HHS abortion mandate. The government is still trying to force the nuns to either violate their deeply held religious convictions or pay crippling fines to the IRS.
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that the Christian-run Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to obey the HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare that requires businesses to pay for abortion causing drugs in their employee health care plans.
A December 2013 Rasmussen Reports poll shows Americans disagree with forcing companies like Hobby Lobby to obey the mandate.
“Half of voters now oppose a government requirement that employers provide health insurance with free contraceptives for their female employees,” Rasmussen reports.
The poll found: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters still believe businesses should be required by law to provide health insurance that covers all government-approved contraceptives for women without co-payments or other charges to the patient.
Fifty-one percent (51%) disagree and say employers should not be required to provide health insurance with this type of coverage. Eleven percent (11%) are not sure.”
Another recent poll found 59 percent of Americans disagree with the mandate.