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Regent Files Amicus Brief in HHS Lawsuit Appeal

| October 11, 2012

Regent University has joined the ranks of several Christian colleges and universities, as well as other faith-based groups, in challenges to the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. On Wednesday, Oct. 10, Regent, along with the American Center for Law and Justice, filed an amicus brief in the case of Wheaton College v. Sebelius and Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius.

Previously, Wheaton and Belmont Abbey had filed lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate regarding contraception, sterilization and abortifacients (drugs that induce abortions). A federal judge ruled these lawsuits were premature and dismissed them. Both colleges filed appeals with the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to ask the court to reverse the lower court decisions. Regent, in conjunction with the ACLJ, has filed a brief in support of these appeals.

In September, the D.C. Circuit consolidated Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius and Wheaton College v. Sebelius, and expedited their appeal against the HHS mandate, which forces the two schools to violate their religious beliefs or pay exorbitant fines. This appeal will be the first time a Federal Court of Appeals will consider the HHS mandate.

"We're very concerned about the religious liberty issue at stake here," explained Regent president, Dr. Carlos Campo. "Is our federal government authorized to compel institutions and individuals to violate their deeply held religious convictions? In our opinion, the Constitution does not permit such compulsion. We believe this is a matter of religious liberty, and our Constitution clearly upholds our right to personal freedom and religious liberty."

The HHS regulation mandates that group health insurance plans must provide FDA-approved contraceptives at no charge to consumers, including the abortifacients Plan B (morning-after pill) and Ella (week-after pill), and sterilization services, as well as provide coverage for abortions. Catholic organizations that have filed suit against the HHS mandate cite objections to all FDA-approved contraceptives, sterilization services and abortion. Although many evangelical Christians do not share Catholics' objection to contraception and sterilization, most—including Regent—oppose abortion, including abortifacient drugs.

"This mandate would require us to implement a practice that clearly is at odds with our beliefs," said President Campo. "At Regent, we're constantly reminding our students of the sacrifices that others have given for our personal freedom, and especially religious freedom. Our conscience compels us to stand with our Christian brothers and sisters at Wheaton and Belmont Abbey and oppose this infringement on religious liberty."

Regent and ACLJ's amicus brief was filed Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The university administration is closely monitoring all cases against the HHS mandate and may take action in other cases in support of other religious challenges to the mandate.


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