Union settles over HHS abortion mandate

JACKSON, Tenn. — Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, has settled its lawsuit against the U.S. government concerning the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that Union provide abortion-causing drugs as part of its employee health plans.

Under the terms of the settlement, the U.S. government agreed that the mandate was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that under the Supreme Court’s decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, it imposed a “substantial burden” on Union’s free exercise of religion.

Union University President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said the university is pleased with the outcome.

“We believe, based on the Bible, that life begins at conception,” Oliver said. “We went to court to defend religious liberty, the right to believe and to live according to those beliefs, and we are glad that religious liberty prevailed.”

The agreement between Union and the U.S. government specifies that Union’s employee health plans are permanently exempt from the HHS contraception mandate.

The settlement follows new rules issued by the Trump administration Oct. 6 to exempt entities from the mandate based on their religious beliefs. As part of the settlement, the government agreed to pay the bulk of the legal fees that Union accrued. (BP)