Battle Between HHS And Christian College Comes To Dramatic End

By Nicole Fisher

A district court has granted a permanent injunction for a U.S. college, saying that it has unending protection from a Department of Health and Human Services mandate, marking a major shift in the health policy landscape.

The “contraceptive mandate” imposed under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires companies and universities to provide contraception in their health plans. While it has evolved over time, the general premise goes against many organizations’ religious beliefs, and throughout the life of the ACA, it has seen lawsuits from groups ranging from Hobby Lobby to Notre Dame to Little Sisters of the Poor to Wheaton College.

In the case of Wheaton College in Illinois, the district court just ruled in favor of the school, declaring that the federal government violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Diana Verm, Wheaton alumna and legal counsel at Becket, which represented the College, said: “In 2016, the Obama administration made concessions at the Supreme Court that made this outcome inevitable. It essentially admitted that the mandate violated the beliefs of religious organizations and that it had other ways to get these services to women who want them. This administration therefore had few options for defending the mandate, and it makes sense that a court would rule that the government can’t use Wheaton or its health plans to provide services that violate its faith.”

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