Loading
Christian college gets temporary relief from HHS mandate
Geneva College president Ken Smith speaks at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. Credit: Geneva College.
Geneva College president Ken Smith speaks at a press conference announcing the lawsuit. Credit: Geneva College.

.- Geneva College in Pennsylvania has been given temporary relief from having to provide emergency contraceptives in its health insurance plans, as required by the federal contraception mandate.

“The court has done the right thing in allowing Geneva College to suspend the enforcement of the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate for the student health plan while the case moves forward,” said Gregory Baylor, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the college.

As a result of the June 18 order by federal judge Joy Flowers Conti, of Pennsylvania's Western District, protects Geneva College from including coverage for potentially abortion-causing drugs for its students for the time being.

The injunction will last “until this court makes a full determination on the merits of the case, or the United States Supreme Court or United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit renders a decision on the merits of this case or an adverse decision in a substantially similar case.”

“All Americans should be free to live according to their faith rather than be forced into violating their own consciences,” Baylor said. “That’s no different for Geneva College, a Christian college that simply wants to abide by the very faith it espouses and teaches.”

“The government should not punish people of faith for making decisions consistent with that faith.”

The school, located in Beaver Falls about 30 miles from Pittsburgh, is contesting the controversial federal mandate by the Health and Human Services department which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates the employer’s deeply-held religious beliefs.

While the mandate includes a narrow exemption for some religious organizations and an “accommodation” for certain non-profit religious employers, it does not offer any protection for faith-based schools like Geneva College.

Geneva College “consciously and deliberately strives to integrate faith in Christ with all aspects of learning and living,” and is associated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.

While the school is not opposed to contraceptive coverage “in general,” it does have moral objections to providing emergency contraceptives which “cause or tend to cause the termination of a pregnancy,” it says.

“As a reformed Christian college, Geneva believes in the sanctity of life and objects, on biblical grounds, to being forced to provide the drugs through its insurance provider,” it added in a June 19 statement.

Conti had initially – in March – dismissed Geneva's suit because it was not yet “ripe.”

The college had only until June 20 to select an insurance plan for its students for the 2013-2014 academic year, and so Conti decided June 18 that the threat to the college's religious freedom was imminent enough to grant the injunction.

Conti found that “three Supreme Court decisions support Geneva's argument that there is a likelihood” it can win the case, on the merits of its rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

She also indicated that the college had made good arguments that its first amendment rights would be violated.

The judge was sceptical that forcing Geneva College to provide its students with contraceptive coverage is a compelling government interest.

“The tens of millions of individuals who remain unaffected by the mandate’s requirements …contradict any notion that the government’s interests are as compelling as defendants argue.”

“Defendants (HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius) in the present case fail to show how exempting Geneva from the mandate will 'seriously compromise (the government’s) ability to administer the program,' particularly where defendants are actively trying to exempt entities like Geneva,” Conti added in her decision.

Conti also noted that without the injunction, Geneva College would “suffer irreparable harm” and that “public interest favors granting injunctive relief.”

The decision does not affect the health insurance plans of Geneva employees, because the mandate will not go into effect for them for another six months, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The school is one of nearly 200 plaintiffs in at least 50 cases across the country that have filed lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate on the grounds of religious freedom.

Geneva College is joined in its lawsuit by the co-owners of Seneca Hardwood Lumber Co., who are Catholics. They have long provided health insurance to their employees, though omitting coverage for contraception and abortion, in accord with their faith.

Tags: Religious liberty, Plan b, Abortifacient


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
20

Liturgical Calendar

April 20, 2014

EASTER SUNDAY OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Gospel
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Second Reading:: Col 3:1-4
Gospel:: Jn 20:1-9

Homily of the Day

Lk 24:13-35

Homily
Date
04/20/14
04/19/14
04/18/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: