More-than-six-year legal battle ends in victory for private college that wishes to operate according to its beliefs
PITTSBURGH – A federal district court issued an order Thursday that permanently prevents the federal government from enforcing the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate against Geneva College, a Christian college in Pennsylvania represented by Alliance Defending Freedom. 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 operate peacefully according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government. Today’s order fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection from the mandate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor.
“Geneva College no longer has to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs it teaches and espouses, and it is no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs,” Baylor explained. “The government has many other ways to ensure access to these drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions.”
In its order in Geneva College v. Azar, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ordered the federal government to cease enforcing the mandate and declared “that defendants—the United States Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor, along with their respective Secretaries—violated Geneva College’s rights under RFRA….”
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case, consolidated with several other similar cases, back to the lower courts for potential resolution by the parties. ADF attorneys and allied attorneys continue to litigate numerous other lawsuits against the mandate.
Brad Tupi, one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, served as local counsel for Geneva College in the case.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.