Oklahoma Wesleyan University received word this past week of an adverse ruling from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding our lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare. We will appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States.
In case you are unaware, the reason for our lawsuit is simple and clear: Under the guise of ObamaCare, Health and Human Services and the department of Internal Revenue Services, with the blessing and direction of the Obama Administration claim they have the right to require Oklahoma Wesleyan to include the provision of abortifacient drugs in its employee health insurance package. This is a requirement that we, and our co-plaintiffs (which include a Catholic Order known as the Little Sisters of the Poor), view as immoral and untenable. It is a compromise of our First Amendment rights that we cannot and will not accept.
For context, consider the mission statement of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which states that it is an “international congregation of Roman Catholic women” offering “the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ… and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to himself.” In other words, this is a Catholic order of nuns who have pledged their lives to obey Christ and serve those who are dying.
In similar fashion, OKWU’s mission reads as follows: “As an evangelical Christian university of The Wesleyan Church, Oklahoma Wesleyan University models a way of thought, a way of life, and a way of faith. It is a place of serious study, honest questions, and critical engagement, all in the context of a liberal arts community that honors the Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom.” We, like the Little Sisters, believe the Bible is preeminent in all matters of faith, learning and living.
Perhaps it’s obvious, but because of the gravity of the issue at hand, maybe a reminder is in order: The Catholic Church and the Wesleyan Church are explicitly and unequivocally pro-life. We humbly acknowledge that God defines life and that men do not. This is a primary tenet of both Catholic and Wesleyan religious faith and doctrine.
Upon hearing of the Tenth Circuit’s decision, I was, of course, predictably disappointed and immediately issued the following statement in response:
“We see this ruling as an arrogant disregard for women. It is condescending and anti-choice. The federal government is literally telling the 70-year-old nuns at the Little Sisters of the Poor, as well as all the female employees of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, that they are not intelligent enough to choose what contraception should or should not be included in their health insurance. This same government is also suggesting that these women don’t understand the basic tenets of their faith well enough to make personal decisions concerning reproductive health. At OKWU, we hold our female employees in much higher regard than this and we will continue to fight any hubris to the contrary. A government that is this cavalier in its disrespect of religious freedom is, likewise, a government that disrespects the Constitution and the women it is intended to protect.”
In his majority opinion in Obergefell vs. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy reassured Protestant and Catholic Christians, as well as Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahia and people of all faiths, that “the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths…”
We shall see, Justice Kennedy, we shall see.