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March for Life to 9th Circuit: Uphold HHS rules that allow us to follow our pro-life mission

ADF attorneys available to media after hearing Thursday
Published On: 6/5/2019

WHO: Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT: Available to media after oral arguments in State of California v. Azar

WHEN: Thursday, June 6, immediately following hearing, which begins at 2:30 p.m. PDT

WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse, 95 7th St., San Francisco. Hearing will take place in Courtroom 3; attorneys will meet media outside of courthouse.

SAN FRANCISCO – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing pro-life organization March for Life will be available for media interviews Thursday following oral arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. March for Life appealed a lower court’s decision to suspend new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services rules that protect religious and pro-life organizations that conscientiously object to complying with a requirement concerning abortifacients.

The Obama administration implemented the requirement, regardless of the religious or moral convictions of employers, to provide their employees with abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy financial penalties. On Jan. 13, a federal district judge temporarily suspended the final versions of permanent protections that HHS issued for religious and pro-life organizations.

“The government shouldn’t be forcing anyone to provide drugs and devices that can destroy life,” said ADF Senior Counsel Ken Connelly, who will argue before the court Thursday. “We are asking the 9th Circuit to lift the lower court’s order and affirm the HHS protections. Those protections simply ensure that pro-life organizations like March for Life and Little Sisters of the Poor can pursue their missions consistent with their most foundational beliefs.”

In 2014, March for Life challenged the abortifacient requirement in March for Life v. Burwell, which came to a close in September 2018 when the U.S. Department of Justice dropped its appeal of a 2015 permanent injunction, and a federal court agreed to dismiss the case.

HHS issued temporary rules in October 2017 that were designed to free objecting employers from the requirement and pave the way to potential resolution of numerous outstanding lawsuits. On Oct. 6, 2017, the same day that HHS issued its temporary rules, the state of California—later joined by Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Virginia—filed the lawsuit State of California v. Azar in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to challenge the rules. In December 2017, March for Life asked the court to allow it to participate in the case, and the court granted that request.

HHS then published final versions of the new protections, but the district court blocked them before they were supposed to go into effect on Jan. 14.

Brian R. Chavez-Ochoa of the Chavez-Ochoa Law Offices in Valley Springs, California, one of more than 3,300 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as co-counsel on behalf of March for Life.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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