Press Release

Ave Maria University Files Lawsuit Over Controversial HHS “Accommodation”

Media Contact

Melinda Skea 202-349-7224 media@becketlaw.org

Additional Information

Washington, D.C. —  Today, Ave Maria University joined the rising tide of lawsuits against the HHS abortion-drug “accommodation,” which still forces the Catholic university to violate its deeply held religious beliefs or pay crippling fines of up to $15,000 dollars per day, or more than $5 million per year. The new challenge comes just two months after the final rule was announced in June.

“The bureaucrats’ proposed solution does not solve anything,” said Eric Baxter, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Ave Maria University in this matter. “Ave Maria is still forced to participate in the government’s scheme to provide free access to contraceptive and abortifacient drugs and devices against their religious beliefs.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed Ave Maria’s challenge while waiting for the administration to issue final regulations responding to the objections of religious organizations. Under the newly released regulations, organizations like Ave Maria must cause another organization to do the same thing they cannot do directly. They and their health care plan remain the central cog in the government’s scheme.

“Ave Maria cannot assuage its conscience by simply causing someone else to provide the objectionable services.  It cannot allow its healthcare plan to facilitate access to contraceptive or abortifacient drugs and devices in any way,” said Baxter. “Like other religious employers,  Ave Maria deserves a complete exemption.”

“It is a sad day when an American citizen or organization has no choice but to sue its own government in order to exercise religious liberty rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution,” said President Towey, Ave Maria’s President and former head of the Bush Administration’s Office of Faith-Based & Community Initiatives.

Ave Maria’s renewed lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The lawsuit challenges the HHS regulations as violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and the Administrative Procedures Act. There have been more than 60 cases challenging the mandate.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty  is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 18 years its attorneys have been recognized as experts in the field of church-state law. The Becket Fund recently won a 9-0 Supreme Court victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, Communications Director, at ehardman@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224.

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