The College of the Ozarks, a private, Christian college in Springfield, Mo., filed a lawsuit Monday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and the Department of the Treasury, claiming the Affordable Care Act's mandate for contraceptive coverage violates its religious beliefs.
Under the ACA, the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, requires coverage, without cost sharing, for all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity, according to the College of the Ozarks lawsuit file.
"The hope is to obtain a relief from the Affordable Health Care act's mandate to provide insurance coverage for abortive drugs and abortion counseling services to employees," College of the Ozarks spokeswoman Elizabeth Hughes said.
The case will be heard in the U.S. Federal Court of Western Missouri.
The College of the Ozarks, University of Notre Dame and the Catholic University of America are joining together against the mandate that violates their ethics, along with other schools and businesses across the country .
"It violates our religious beliefs because it's requiring or telling us that we have to provide these abortion drugs and counseling," Hughes said. "We're a Christian institution, and abortion definitely goes against our fundamental beliefs. We're a pro-life organization."
The College of the Ozarks claims there are five unconstitutional counts in this case, which it includes in the lawsuit file.
The lawsuit claims the Religious Freedom Act is violated because the college's religious beliefs prevent it from giving out access to contraceptive drugs, which the mandate requires. It also claims the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is violated because the mandate is not neutral to religion and is not a generally applicable law.
In the lawsuit, the college also claims the Free Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is violated by government entanglement with religion by determining which religions are required to comply with the mandate or are identified as a "religious employer". To be identified as a religious employer, the organization must have the purpose to further the growth of religion, employ people who share the same religious beliefs and serve those who share the same religious beliefs.
"Religious liberty is at the heart of this issue, and we Americans better wake up," College of the Ozarks President Jerry Davis said. "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. Who decided that we need a new definition?"