- (Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
A private university in Colorado has joined a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services over a mandate added to the “Affordable Care Act.”
Colorado Christian University joined Belmont Abbey College in its suit against a mandate approved in August that the colleges claim would force them to provide abortifacients, or drugs that induce abortions.
“The question is – may a government agency compel support of abortions by those whose religious convictions forbid them from doing so,” said CCU President Bill Armstrong in a statement.
“How can we train our college students to advocate for limited government and personal freedom…if we don’t fight this unparalleled attack on those very principles?”
The mandate focused on what the Department of Health and Human Services called “Women's Preventive Services,” which deals with reproductive issues.
Erin Shields, communications director for Health Care for HHS, told CP that the Affordable Care Act does give an exemption for religious groups.
“The health care law required HHS to issue guidelines for women's preventive services and the department asked the independent doctors and scientists at the Institute of Medicine to make recommendations,” said Shields.
“At the same time, we issued a proposed religious exemption to the women's contraception guideline and held an open period of public comment on that proposal. We are currently reviewing those comments. ”
Richard Sorian, assistant secretary for Public Affairs for HHS, wrote in a blog about the August mandate and how they will make efforts to consider religious concerns.
“Our goal has always been to balance expanding coverage of important preventive services and respecting religious beliefs,” wrote Sorian.
Sorian went on to write that HHS gives “religious organizations the choice of buying or sponsoring insurance that does not cover contraception.”
Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius is one of several legal challenges put against parts or all of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March. Attorney Generals from several states have filed suit against the administration, arguing that portions of the health care overhaul are unconstitutional.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has argued in court that the act forces Virginians to buy a product, thus violating the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
Next March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from a group led by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi regarding the constitutionality of the healthcare act.
Belmont, a Catholic college founded by Benedictine Monks in 1876, is being represented in court by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
If the Affordable Care Act survives the legal challenge, the August mandate will go into effect in August 2012.