News: CCU Applauds HHS Decision Protecting Conscience Rights

CCU Applauds HHS Decision Protecting Conscience Rights

Colorado Christian University stands in support of Friday's decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement two companion interim final rules that provide conscience protections to Americans who have a religious or moral objection to paying for health insurance that covers abortifacient services. This decision by HHS is a victory for religious liberty advocates across the United States.

Previously under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Health and Human Services Department mandated that all group health insurance plans provided FDA-approved contraceptives at no charge to consumers, including the abortifacients Plan B (morning-after pill) and ella (week-after pill), and sterilization services. The first iteration of the mandate in 2011 created an onerous burden for institutions that conscientiously object to providing abortifacients for religious reasons, as it contained only a very narrow exemption that applied to a small number of churches.

All other faith-based institutions were subjected to the mandate with no regard for their religious beliefs, including Colorado Christian University. As an Evangelical Christian institution, CCU has always strongly opposed abortion, including the use and provision of abortifacient drugs. Under the first of two companion rules released Friday, organizations that have sincerely held religious beliefs against providing such services would no longer be required to do so.

"Friday's decision from the Department of Health and Human Services is good news for Colorado Christian University, and indeed, for all faith-based institutions who are committed to the sanctity of life and to religious freedom," commented Steven Miller, University Counsel. "Prior to the announcement, people of faith and faith-based organizations were essentially punished by the government for holding true to their beliefs on life, especially when making decisions for themselves or their organizations. This decision has remedied that."

Prior to the announcement of the new rules, Colorado Christian University had filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Colorado. Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius argued that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, as well as the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. As the first evangelical university to fight this mandate, CCU was later joined by 18 other Christian universities in their opposition to the mandate. Today's rule change by HHS is an important step toward allowing CCU to once again focus on our mission to provide quality, Christ-centered higher education to thousands of students on campus and online.