Last week, the U.S. government submitted a notice of appeal of a federal district court’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Abortion Pill Mandate to First Liberty Institute’s client—Insight for Living Ministries (IFLM). The matter of the preliminary injunction will now proceed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In November 2014, a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction to IFLM, the Bible-teaching ministry of well-known ministry leader, Pastor Charles R. Swindoll, founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas.
The preliminary injunction ensures that the international Bible-teaching ministry does not have to comply with the mandate nor pay a massive $100 PER DAY PER EMPLOYEE fine while the case makes its way through the court system. However, the federal government now seeks to have that temporary protection revoked.
First Liberty Institute is also fighting back against the Abortion Pill Mandate on behalf of four retirement communities and two colleges associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (“CMA”) denomination. Our staff attorneys and local volunteer attorneys will be in a Florida federal court tomorrow for a preliminary injunction hearing.
“Despite court loss after court loss, the Obama Administration continues to be relentless in seeking to require faith-based organizations to violate their religious beliefs. Apparently, that will continue until the Supreme Court again takes up this issue and rules that the Abortion Pill Mandate’s so called ‘religious accommodation’ violates federal law,” said First Liberty Institute General Counsel Jeff Mateer. “As result, we are going to be in litigation representing ministries like Insight for Living Ministries and the CMA ministries for the next several months, and perhaps even longer.”
WHY DOES THE ABORTION PILL MANDATE MATTER?
The Abortion Pill Mandate emanates from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare,” that requires group health insurance plans to provide coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives, including some that are abortifacients such as Plan B (the “day after pill”) and Ella (the “week after pill”).
Every organization that is not a church or a denomination, that either has more than fifty employees or that has fewer than fifty employees but nevertheless provides group health insurance, must follow the Abortion Pill Mandate and provide health insurance coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives—including the abortifacients.
The Abortion Pill Mandate only exempts churches, church denominations, and church auxiliaries, and there is no exemption to the Abortion Pill Mandate for any other ministry or religious non-profit.
FORCING RELIGIOUS MINISTRIES TO VIOLATE THEIR FAITH
The Abortion Pill Mandate does include a so-called “religious accommodation” for ministries and religious non-profits that are opposed to funding abortifacients. But the “accommodation” has severe problems. Under the so-called “religious accommodation”:
But IFLM, and the other Christian colleges and retirement communities and ministries First Liberty Institute is representing, disagree and assert that the “accommodation” still requires them to cooperate in and facilitate the provision of a service that violates their Christian faith and forces them to abandon their religious beliefs.
“The Obama Administration thinks the ‘religious accommodation’ solves any conscience problems,” said Matthew Kacsmaryk, First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel. “But it still requires faith-based organizations like Insight for Living Ministries and the CMA ministries to formally and materially cooperate in the provision of abortion-inducing drugs or services.”
STAND WITH US TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF FAITH-BASED MINISTRIES
In efforts to protect the rights of Christian non-profits, schools, and organizations seeking relief from the mandate and its “religious accommodation,” First Liberty Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of IFLM in October 2014. Also that same month, First Liberty Institute brought a similar lawsuit on behalf of four CMA retirement communities—Shell Point Retirement Community, the Alliance Community for Retirement Living, Chapel Pointe at Carlisle, and Town and Country Manor—and two CMA colleges—Simpson University and Crown College.
As these lawsuits challenging the Abortion Pill Mandate continue to make their way through the legal process, First Liberty Institute remains committed to defending the religious liberty rights of IFLM, the CMA ministries and our other clients, so that people of faith do not have to violate their religious conscience and abandon their sincerely-held religious beliefs.
Please pray as we move forward. And please donate now as we continue to represent and defend IFLM, the CMA ministries, and other clients that are challenging the Abortion Pill Mandate.
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.