Wheaton College Appeals Dismissal of HHS Lawsuit

Image: Wheaton College Appeals Dismissal of HHS Lawsuit

“The government has granted Wheaton a temporary reprieve—but has not addressed its core concerns.” — Kyle Duncan, General Counsel, Becket Fund

For Immediate Release: August 30, 2012

Washington, DCWheaton College has appealed a federal judge’s decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the HHS mandate. The mandate forces Wheaton to cover the “morning-after pill” and “week-after pill” against its deeply held religious beliefs, or face crippling fines of $1.4 million dollars each year.

In response to Wheaton’s lawsuit, the federal government rewrote the mandate guidelines to give Wheaton until August 2013 to comply. Because Wheaton’s medical policies are renewed each calendar year, this means implementation would be effective January 1, 2014.  The judge therefore ruled Wheaton’s present lawsuit was premature.

“Wheaton will keep fighting for its religious freedom,” says Kyle Duncan, General Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “The government has granted Wheaton a temporary reprieve—but has not addressed its core concerns.”

Wheaton’s religious convictions prevent it from providing its employees with access to abortion-causing drugs as mandated by the federal government. The College’s lawsuit seeks to preserve its right to offer health insurance to employees that aligns with its beliefs.

“We’re appealing because we continue to believe that our case should be considered on its merits,” says Wheaton College President Philip Ryken. “While we are pleased that our lawsuit has compelled the government to delay enforcement, waiting another year will not change the fact that the mandate violates our religious liberty and puts our ability to offer our employees health insurance at risk.”

There are now 26 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act.

More information regarding the College’s lawsuit is available via its July 18 news release, and its updated Frequently Asked Questions. A Case Summary, Frequently Asked Questions about legal challenges to the HHS mandate, and a Media Information Sheet are available on the Becket Fund website.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 18 years its attorneys are recognized as experts in the field of church-state law, and they recently won a 9-0 victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

 For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at ehardman@becketfund.org or call 202.349.7224.

Additional Information:

Becket Fund’s Notice of Appeal (August 30, 2012)

HHS Information Central