A northern Indiana college has won its long-running lawsuit seeking a religious exemption from paying for employees’ birth control under former President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Federal Judge Jon E. DiGuilio in South Bend issued a permanent injunction Monday sought by Grace College and Seminary in Winona Lake, The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne reported. The ruling stops the enforcement of a portion of the law related to providing contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization through student and employee health insurance plans.
DiGuilio said the Department of Justice under President Donald Trump no longer defends the measure, citing that it would violate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Grace is an evangelical Christian college.
Grace had filed the lawsuit alongside Biola University in California. The schools were represented by the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance for Defending Freedom.
The schools had demonstrated that they would suffer “irreparable harm” by having to violate their religious beliefs or incur substantial financial penalties, DiGuilio said.
The order removes requirements to fill out forms that authorize the coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, said Gregory S. Baylor, senior counsel with the alliance.
“The government has many other ways to ensure access to these drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions,” he said.
Grace President Bill Katip said the decision will allow the school to provide health care benefits while maintaining its moral beliefs.
“Christian institutions like ours should not be forced to abandon our religious beliefs to remain lawful,” he said.