Mo. college sues over Affordable Care Act

Michael P. Tremoglie Sep. 19, 2012, 10:00am


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - A rural Missouri college used the 225th anniversary of the Constitution of the United States on Monday to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration.

The College of the Ozarks filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri against the Department of Health and Human Services and others. It is alleging violations of its Constitutional rights because of the Affordable Care Act's mandates of providing insurance payments for birth control and abortion, which the College of the Ozarks says is contrary to its religious convictions.

There are currently nearly 30 lawsuits across the nation challenging the Affordable Care Act's abortion and contraception mandate.

CFO believes that the mandate requiring that the employees' health insurance plan contain coverage or access to coverage for elective abortion services, certain FDA-approved abortifacient drugs, and related education and counseling is illegal. Since the Mandate exposes CFO to fines for the exercise of its religious beliefs by denying payment for abortions and contraception, this violates not only its Constitutional rights but its rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the college says.

CFO maintains that the "narrowly-crafted" religious employer exemption and "safe harbor" make it impossible for the College to comply with its religious beliefs. The Act, it says, also violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause that prohibits the establishment of any national religion, excessive government entanglement with religion, and the preference by the government of one religion over another because it creates "a tiered exemption of more religious and less religious organizations." The former are exempt from the Mandate and the latter are not.

"The so-called Affordable Care Act is government at its worst," CFO President Jerry Davis said. "This is not a partisan issue. It is a constitutional issue, and the college wants its rights respected and enforced, instead of being trampled upon. The Constitution still matters."

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