Federal court rules that 2011 mandate is unconstitutional.
A decision has been reached in the lawsuit between two Christian colleges and the United States government over a 2011 mandate by the Obama administration, which would have required these schools to provide contraception to their students. U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett ruled that the mandate violated their religious freedom.
The colleges, Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, filed the lawsuit in 2013, claiming that the mandate was unconstitutional. They were both represented by the Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom.
The mandate required all health care providers to ensure access to and the supply of not only abortion services but also birth control, family planning methods, and similar resources. Religion-based hospitals and Christian universities objected to the mandate, but many were not provided an exception and faced punishment if they refused to provide services they found objectionable.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, Cornerstone President Joseph Stowell wrote an open letter, stating, “Given our conviction that life begins at conception and our commitment to the sanctity of life, we find the mandate to provide our faculty, staff and students with insurance that provides access to abortion-inducing prescriptions unacceptable.”
Similar victories have been seen by colleges in California, Indiana, and Oklahoma in recent months. Since the current administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has adopted rules which allow the previous mandate to lapse, it is likely that any such lawsuit will end with similar results.