By Larry O’Dell The Associated Press May 16, 2013
A Liberty University lawyer urged a federal appeals court to overturn the Obama administration’s health care reform law Thursday, arguing that it violates the school’s religious rights by requiring it to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.
Mathew Staver told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the conservative Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell faces millions of dollars in penalties if it refuses to provide employee health insurance that violates its religious beliefs.
“The hammer is about ready to fall on Liberty,” Staver said.
U.S. Justice Department attorney Alisa B. Klein argued that employee health insurance provided by Liberty already meets the law’s minimum requirements without including the benefits that the university finds objectionable.
“As best we can tell from everything they’ve said in their complaint, they’re fine,” Klein said.
She also told the court that the law will allow for coverage options that do not include abortion drugs or contraceptives, but Staver disagreed.
“Every plan has to include abortifacients,” he said.
The appeals panel is the same one that in 2011 ruled 2-1 that Liberty’s lawsuit was premature. It consists of two Obama appointees Judges Andre M. Davis and James A. Wynn Jr. and Bill Clinton appointee Diana Gribbon Motz. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health reform law in another case last June, and in November the justices ordered the appeals court to reconsider Liberty’s case in light of that ruling.
Appeals court hears Liberty U. health reform challenge