The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal October 23 filed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration in the contraceptive case filed by GuideStone in 2012. HHS had filed a voluntary motion to dismiss its appeal in GuideStone’s litigation against the contraceptive mandate after the Trump administration announced earlier this month that it was publishing a new interim final rule that respected the religious convictions of employers providing health care plans.
The dismissal of the appeal will send GuideStone’s litigation back to the federal district court in Oklahoma where the case was initially filed. In light of the contentious nature of groups that have vowed to challenge the new interim final rule, GuideStone will continue to press for additional and lasting judicial relief to protect its health plan and the religious employers it serves from further government entanglement.
Under the Obama administration, the government mandated that all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive drugs and devices — including those that can cause abortions — be made available at no charge to participants. GuideStone, along with Truett-McConnell College of Georgia and Reaching Souls International of Oklahoma, was among more than 50 cases launched against the mandate. GuideStone, as the largest evangelical pension board in the United States, representing more than 45,000 Southern Baptist churches, filed suit along with Truett-McConnell and Reaching Souls to challenge the government’s distressing conduct.
“We filed this case to protect the rights of the unborn and to stop the government’s infringement of our religious liberty, as well as the liberties of all the ministry organizations GuideStone serves,” GuideStone General Counsel Harold R. Loftin, Jr., said. “We are thankful for this move by the government’s lawyers to drop their appeal. We look forward to bringing a final resolution to this case that will protect the unborn and preserve religious liberty.”