A federal district court issued an order Tuesday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act’s abortion-pill mandate against six Christian organizations represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. The order also declares that the mandate violates the organizations’ rights protected by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The previous administration’s mandate forces most 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 current administration’s Department of Justice abandoned its defense of the flawed mandate.
“Religious organizations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Tuesday’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.
“These faith-based organizations no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs that they teach and espouse, and they are 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.”
The six organizations—Association of Christian Schools International, Samaritan Ministries International, Taylor University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Asbury Theological Seminary, and ADF—specifically object to providing coverage for abortifacients.
“First, plaintiffs have demonstrated that requiring them to comply with [the mandate], to the extent such compliance conflicts with plaintiffs’ sincerely held religious beliefs, violates plaintiffs’ rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act…. Second, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm unless defendants are enjoined from interfering with plaintiffs’ practice of their religious beliefs.…,” the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado wrote in its order in Association of Christian Schools International v. Azar, adding that “the public interest in the vindication of religious freedom favors the entry of a permanent injunction.”
Other federal district courts have issued similar orders in recent months for Christian organizations in Oklahoma, Indiana, California, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida. ADF attorneys and allied attorneys continue to litigate numerous other lawsuits against the mandate.