DALLAS and OKLAHOMA CITY — Federal District Judge Timothy DeGiusti issued a preliminary injunction against the federal government’s mandate that requires employers, including many religiously affiliated ones, to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices.
Churches and closely related ministries are exempt from the mandate. Many Christian universities, children’s homes and other ministries, however, were not exempted, and instead were in danger of being forced to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices through a poorly conceived “accommodation”― or face crippling penalties.
Judge DeGiusti’s ruling means organizations that use GuideStone’s health care plans, now or in the future, will be protected from participating in providing abortion-causing drugs for the foreseeable future. A trial date to make a final decision has not yet been set.
“This ruling reflects common-sense legal principles, respects the rights of religious institutions to provide benefits consistent with their convictions, and provides needed relief from the government’s attempt to co-opt ministry health plans,” said O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources. “We appreciate Judge DeGiusti’s timely protection of religious liberty, and give thanks to God for this victory and for the many thousands who have made this a matter of prayer.”
Hawkins went on to say that this injunction only concerns abortion-inducing drugs and devices, not other contraceptives.
“While our Catholic friends oppose contraceptive in most every form — a belief that they should be free to exercise under the First Amendment — our plans reflect the convictions of most Southern Baptists and evangelicals that the use of contraceptives is a matter of personal conscience,” Hawkins said. “Our plans will continue to provide coverage for the vast majority of FDA-approved drugs that do not cause abortions.”
Reaching Souls International, an Oklahoma-based missions organization, also hailed the ruling.
“We are very pleased that the court chose to rule in our favor,” said Dustin Manis, CEO of Reaching Souls International. “This ruling protects our ministry from this offensive, objectionable and onerous requirement. We pray this injunction will lead to an eventual full repeal of the abortion-drug mandate and continued protections for religious organizations under the First Amendment.”
Truett-McConnell, a Georgia Baptist Convention-affiliated college, had a similar response.
“We are pleased to see that Judge DeGiusti, along with many other courts, is recognizing these mandates go too far,” said Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College. “We join with our partners in ministry at Reaching Souls and GuideStone in celebrating this ruling and praising the Lord for this outcome.”
This case is one of almost 90 lawsuits brought against the abortion-drug mandate. Hawkins said Christians should continue to pray for these cases as they wind through the courts.
“Whether the cases relate to family businesses like Hobby Lobby, or for non-profit ministries like GuideStone, the religious freedom concerns cannot be overstated,” Hawkins said. “It’s time for Christians to stay informed, get involved and pray for wisdom for all in authority.”