September 23, 2013 — Four Christian universities in Oklahoma on Friday filed a lawsuit claiming that the federal contraceptive coverage rules violate their religious freedom, the Tulsa World reports (Sherman, Tulsa World, 9/21).
The rules, which are being implemented under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), require most employers to offer the coverage to their workers. Houses of worship are exempt from the requirement, and religiously affiliated not-for-profits are eligible for an accommodation that ensures they do not have to pay for or directly provide the coverage to their employees. However, private companies are not eligible for an accommodation or exemption (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/19).
The four universities are Mid-America Christian University, Oklahoma Baptist University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Southern Nazarene University.
Gregory Baylor, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the universities and other plaintiffs in similar suits, said, "This mandate leaves religious employers with no real choice: You must either comply and abandon your religious freedom and conscience, or resist and be taxed for your faith." He added, "If religious convictions mean nothing in this context, there is no stopping what the government can ultimately do" (CQ HealthBeat, 9/20).
Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper said, "We believe all women should have the religious freedom to not pay for a drug they find immoral and will never use," adding, "We are filing suit because we believe God is God and the government is not" (Tulsa World, 9/21).