Citing a violation of religious freedom, College of the Ozarks took the occasion of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution to file a lawsuit against the federal government for its contraceptive mandate found in the Affordable Care Act.
"The so-called Affordable Care Act is government at its worst," said College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis, while announcing the college's litigation against the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury during a press conference Monday at the school located at Point Lookout, Mo.
"This is not a partisan issue. It is a constitutional issue, and the college wants its rights respected and enforced, instead of being trampled upon," said Davis during the announcement planned to coincide with Constitution Day. "The Constitution still matters."
College officials said they object to the contraceptive mandate in the act as it relates to elective abortion, abortifacient drugs, and education and counseling about these subjects, on the basis of the college's religious beliefs.
Despite the fact that the college, which began in the early 1900s as the vision of a Presbyterian missionary, has been judicially recognized as a religious institution, officials say the government did not deem it religious enough to meet the narrow definition created in the mandate for a religious employer. Additionally, the college is not religious enough to qualify for the safe harbor created by the government in response to criticism about the mandate.
"The definition is so restrictive, Jesus and the Apostles wouldn't qualify," said Davis during the conference.
The legal action was taken because the college needed to make decisions on insurance coverage soon, according to the president of the college as reported by News-Leader, a local media outlet. Abortion coverage has never been a part of the college's insurance coverage plan.
School officials call the government's actions of issuing new interpretations of "Obamacare" in direct response to legal challenges "an effort to manipulate the court's jurisdiction and avoid judicial review."
"The college seeks a determination that the Act violates numerous constitutional and statutory provisions and asks for protection so that it is not placed in the untenable position of choosing to obey the law or ignore its religious beliefs," said College of the Ozarks officials.
"Such legislation flies in the face of religious liberty that the founders of our country sought to protect and many have died to defend," Davis stated. "Religious liberty is at the heart of this issue, and we Americans better wake up. Now that God has been removed from public schools, shoved off the public square, we now see that a faceless group of unelected government bureaucrats have decided to redefine what constitutes a religious employer.
"We want to know: Who decided that we need a 'new definition'? With whom did the regulators consult on this description? Who wrote this restrictive description? What's wrong with the commonly used exemption that religious institutions have used for years? This could never get through Congress. Only the 'regulatory process' is all that is left to circumvent the will of the American people. It's just more evidence that our own government has become like a cancer, slowly eating away at our Constitutional rights. It's time to say, 'Enough is enough,' and to reverse the socialist course we are on," he said.
There are currently nearly 30 lawsuits across the nation challenging the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate.