Four universities in Oklahoma filed suit last Friday challenging Obama’s HHS Mandate, which requires employers to provide certain benefits – including abortion-inducing drugs – in their insurance plans. These universities include Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-American Christian University.
While there is an extremely narrow exception allowing some employers an exemption from the Mandate, the universities do not qualify. Additionally, the “accommodation” that was offered “falls woefully short of addressing and resolving the substance of their concerns.”
This leaves the universities the choice of complying with the Mandate or paying a fine. According to the Complaint:
Coercing Plaintiffs to facilitate access to morally objectionable contraceptives and abortifacients advances no compelling governmental interest.
The required drugs, devices, and related services to which Plaintiffs object are already widely available at non-prohibitive costs.
There are numerous alternative mechanisms through which the government could provide access to the objectionable drugs and services without conscripting objecting organizations and their insurance plans in violation of their religious beliefs.
The universities claim that this governmental coercion violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, multiple provisions of the First Amendment to the Constitution (the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause, and the Free Speech Clause), and the Due Process Clause.
According to Gregory Baylor, Senior Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom:
Christian colleges should remain free to operate according to the beliefs that define them…. This mandate leaves religious employers with no real choice: you must either comply and abandon your religious freedom and conscience, or resist and be taxed for your faith. If religious convictions mean nothing in this context, there is no stopping what the government can ultimately do.