Court Reinstates Christian College's Obamacare Lawsuit

Susan Jones | May 9, 2013 | 10:40am EDT
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Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., was founded in 1848 by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America and is 'committed to a Christian worldview that acknowledges God's sovereignty over every area of creation.' (Photo from college's website)

( - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Wednesday reinstated Geneva College's lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's contraception mandate.

The Christian college, which "prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society," objects to the administration's requirement that it include coverage for abortion-producing products and contraceptives as well as sterilization procedures.

Geneva's original lawsuit, filed in February, was dismissed a few weeks later "for lack of ripeness," based partly on the Obama administration's announcement that it was offering accommodation to religious entities such as Geneva that do not fit Obamacare's definition of a “religious employer.”

But in its motion to reconsider, Geneva College called the "accommodation" a "smoke and mirrors" approach that would still require the college to provide and pay for a plan that allows employees access to the objectionable services.

Geneva told the court its objection to the contraceptive mandate remains unchanged despite the Obama administration's proposed accommodation; and it further argued that it has already begun negotiating the terms of its student health insurance plan for the 2013-2014 plan year (which begins on August 1, 2013), and must now choose between making available insurance with objectionable provisions -- or eliminating its student health insurance plan altogether.

“All Americans, including job creators and providers, should be free to live according to their faith rather than be forced into violating their own consciences," said Gregory S. Baylor, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Geneva. "The court has done the right thing in allowing Geneva College to remain in this ensure that the government doesn’t punish people of faith for making decisions consistent with that faith.”

On its website, Geneva College explains that the administration's proposed accommodation is no accommodation at all:

We would have welcomed a real modification to the rule being promulgated by HHS; had there been a real accommodation we would likely not have filed suit.  Unfortunately, on February 10, the same day President Obama announced there would be a compromise, HHS filed the final rule in the Federal Register with no change.  HHS’s announcement also failed to make or even propose any substantive change.  

"Had the President announced that the administration was not going to finalize the rule until it worked out the terms of a compromise, we would have had greater confidence that a real accommodation might be made.  As it stands, no compromise exists either in law or regulation.  The President’s non-binding suggestion that our insurance company would provide objectionable items “for free” is not plausible, and misses the moral point that HHS will still be forcing us to provide a plan that directly enables the coverage of items that attack human life in violation of our beliefs."
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