Federal Judge Issues Injunction, Protects Swindoll Ministry From Abortion Pill Mandate

Federal Judge Issues Injunction, Protects Swindoll Ministry From Abortion Pill Mandate

A federal magistrate judge issued a preliminary injunction on November 12th, protecting Pastor Charles Swindoll’s ministry from the federal government’s Health and Human Services abortion mandate. Insight for Living Ministries (IFLM) filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas challenging the federal government’s expansive edict requiring employers to facilitate insurance coverage for abortion-inducing treatment and drugs. The mandate does not exclude Christian and other ministries. The Liberty Institute obtained the ruling on behalf of IFLM.

IFLM filed a lawsuit in federal court on October 22, 2014, challenging regulations issued under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that forces employers to provide, directly or indirectly, insurance plans with coverage of abortifacient drugs and devices.

In its complaint, IFLM pled that “[u]nder the regulations, IFLM has until its first group health insurance plan renewal after January 1, 2014, to either include certain drugs, devices, and/or procedures that are abortifacients or arrange for its insurance carriers or others to provide the same.”

IFLM’s health insurance is self-insured and renews on December 1, 2014. The ministry has more than fifty full-time employees covered by its group health insurance plan and the plan is not a “grandfathered” plan under the PPACA. IFLM is not a “church” for purposes of exemptions under PPACA.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include Sylvia Mathews Burwell, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; the United States Department of Health and Human Services; Thomas E. Perez, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the United States Department of Labor; the United States Department of Labor; Jacob J. Lew, in his official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury; and the United States Department of the Treasury.

IFLM is the ministry of Pastor Charles R. Swindoll who is the former President and current Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary. He is also the Senior Pastor and Teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas.

IFLM pled that it is “IFLM’s sincerely held religious belief that it is forbidden, under the religious principles and teachings. . .from providing or assisting in the provision of any abortion-inducing drugs or services. IFLM not only opposes the direct provision of abortion-related drugs, devices and services on religious grounds, but it also opposes being associated with or participating indirectly with the provision of such services, deeming such association a form of formal or material cooperation with the evil of abortion.”

In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel Matthew Kacsmaryk stated “We are very encouraged by today’s outcome. This is an important victory for faith-based ministries that seek to provide life-affirming healthcare insurance for all their employees.” Mr. Kacsmaryk continued, “IFLM believes it is a religious imperative to provide healthcare insurance and defend unborn human life.  Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the federal government cannot force IFLM to choose between these two religious beliefs.”

Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of the Liberty Institute, told Breitbart Texas “No ministry should be forced by the federal government to violate their faith. This is a victory for every American.” Mr. Shackelford has argued before the United States Supreme Court and has testified before the U.S. House and Senate on constitutional issues. He has won three state landmark First Amendment and religious liberty cases in the past few years.


Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.