PINEVILLE, La. — A Christian college in Louisiana has won its legal challenge against the abortion pill mandate in Obamacare as a federal court ruled that the mandate overly-burdened the school’s right to religious freedom.
As previously reported, Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, filed suit against the Obama administration in 2012, challenging the mandate as it pertained to drugs that the college considered to be abortifacients.
“The Sixth Commandment says thou shall not murder,” Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard told reporters after the suit was initially filed. “The government is imposing their religion of murder on us and I think it’s time for the people of our country to wake up and stand together.”
“It doesn’t matter if someone believes in it or not,” added faculty member Mike Johnson. “If they have a sincerely held religious belief, under current law they’re forced to violate it. It really comes down to a matter of religious liberty and not so much distinctions among religions’ teachings.”
The college was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who argued that the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), as well as the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Louisiana College uses Guidestone for its insurance needs, which does not offer emergency contraceptive coverage in its plans.
“LC believes and teaches that human life begins when an egg becomes fertilized, and that abortion, or methods that harm a fertilized human embryo, ends human life and is a sin,” Judge Dee Drell, nominated by George W. Bush, outlined in his ruling on Wednesday. “In addition, LC believes that facilitating transgressions of God’s law concerning the dignity of human life is equally immoral and sinful, and that sin disrupts its relationship with God.”
In coming to his conclusion, Drell analyzed other recent rulings surrounding the mandate and weighed the encumbrance that it would place upon the college in light of its Christian faith.
“In sum, Plaintiff has shown … that the challenged regulations substantially burden its religious exercise, and Defendants have failed to show that the challenged regulations are the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling government interest,” he said.
Following the ruling, ADF praised the decision, stating that the court reached the proper judgment.
“All Americans should oppose unjust laws that force people—under threat of punishment—to give up their freedom to live and work according to their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Louisiana College is a Christian college that simply wants to continue to operate as a Christian college as it has since its founding in 1906. The court did the right thing in striking down the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate as it applies to Louisiana College’s health insurance coverage.”
As previously reported, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in June that the federal government cannot force closely-held companies to obey regulations that violate the owners’ religious beliefs. The ruling was a victory for the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, who objected to Obama’s abortion pill mandate on the basis of their faith and convictions. Hobby Lobby has been providing birth control coverage to employees for years, but took issue with four contraceptives that it considered to be abortifacients.
Photo: Billy Hathorne