Friday, December 23, 2011

Christian College Sues Over Health Care Mandate To Cover Contraceptives and Sterilization

The Becket Fund announced this week the filing of a lawsuit by Colorado Christian University (CCU) challenging on free exercise, free expression and other grounds regulations issued under the Affordable Care Act that require health care plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures. The plans must also cover related education and counseling.  While the regulations contain an exemption for certain religious employers (see prior posting), the exemption is too narrow to cover universities whose purpose is not limited to the inculcation of religious values. The complaint (full text) in Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius, (D CO, filed 12/22/2011), seeks a declaration that enforcement of the regulations against CCU violates the 1st Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that the regulations were issued in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. It also seeks an injunction against enforcement of the regulations against religious organizations that object to providing insurance coverage for contraceptives (including  abortifacient contraceptives) and sterilization. A similar lawsuit was filed last month by a Benedictine Catholic University (see prior posting); however CCU is the first interdenominational Christian college to bring such a suit.