Belmont Abbey College v.
Sebelius (2011-Current) press release from the Becket
Fund for Religious Liberty's Emily Hardman
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represents Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic liberal arts college
founded by Benedictine monks, in a lawsuit against the federal government to protect Belmont Abbey's right to be true to its principles.
As a Catholic college, Belmont Abbey teaches that contraception, sterilization, and abortion are against God's law.
So in August 2011, when the federal government issued a regulation requiring that all group health plans must cover "[FDA-]approved
contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity,"
Belmont Abbey knew it could not be true to both the government mandate and its Church's teachings. This is so because FDA-approved
contraceptives include a number of drugs Belmont Abbey, and many scientists, consider to be abortifacients—most notably Plan B
and Ella. Were Belmont Abbey to choose not to cover contraception and sterilization as required by the government mandate, it
would be penalized with a hefty fine and forced to terminate its health insurance for employees and students. For example, a
religious organization with 100 employees would have to pay the federal government $140,000 per year for the "privilege" of
not underwriting medical services it believes are immoral. In other words, Belmont Abbey would be forced to pay for the right
to remain true to its principles!
Although the government regulation includes
an exemption from the mandate for certain religious employers, Belmont Abbey
believes that it will not be exempted from the mandate's requirements. The exemption is extremely narrow, covering only
certain religious employers whose purpose is to inculcate religious values and who primarily serve and employ those of their
Belmont Abbey's only recourse is to sue the federal government and ask the court to protect its First Amendment and federal
statutory rights from this substantial burden by the federal government.
On September 20th, 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit,
granted a motion
for expedited appeal, and on October 5, 2012 the
Fund filed their brief in the DC Circuit court.
On December 18, 2012 the D.C. Circuit Court of appeals
an intermediate victory to the religious colleges when they commanded HHS to act quickly to fix the HHS Mandate.
"A federal appeals court not only ruled that Belmont Abbey College's lawsuit against the government could proceed, but decided that they will be keeping tabs to make sure the government follows through with its promises." Read the article from the Gaston Gazette on December 19, 2012.
UPDATE February 13, 2013
Still Unacceptable and Unconstitutional
"Today's proposed rule does nothing to protect the religious freedom of millions of Americans. For instance, it does nothing to protect the rights of
family businesses like Hobby Lobby," said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "The administration
obviously realizes that the HHS mandate puts constitutional rights at risk. There would have been an easy way to resolve this—expanding the
exemption—but the proposed rule expressly rejects that option."
Video: Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State.
Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?
Donate To The College: Your gift will help Belmont Abbey College continue
to protect and defend the authentically Catholic identity of our distinguished institution, founded in 1876 by Benedictine monks.
Please make your donation here.
Refer A Prospective Student: By referring a student, you'll
help us continue to fulfill our inspiring mission: “Our mission is to educate students in the liberal arts and sciences so
that in all things God may be glorified. In this endeavor, we are guided by the Catholic intellectual tradition and the Benedictine
spirit of prayer and learning. Exemplifying Benedictine hospitality, we welcome a diverse body of students and provide them with an
education that will enable them to lead lives of integrity, to succeed professionally, to become responsible citizens, and to be a
blessing to themselves and to others.” Please tell us about a prospective student here.