Update: The College and the HHS Mandate

President Michael F. McLean recently addressed the Thomas Aquinas College community, giving students, faculty, and staff an update on the College’s efforts with respect to the HHS contraceptive mandate. His remarks appear below:

Let me say a few words about our present political situation. We will not let ourselves be discouraged or deterred by the challenges we face from an aggressively secular culture. One such challenge is that presented to conscience and the free exercise of religion by the Affordable Care Act’s HHS mandate that Catholic organizations provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures.

We had hoped that the election would remove this challenge, but it didn’t. Now that the election results are in, the College is carefully considering whether and how to file a successful legal response to the mandate — a response based on the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A number of lawsuits against the mandate have already been filed — with mixed results — and we have reservations about filing a suit in our very liberal Ninth Circuit. For this reason, we may choose to join a suit in a different circuit. Whatever we end up doing, in considering our options we are consulting with Archbishop Gomez, Board members, and the faculty, and we will do what we think is prudent and in the best interests of the College.

I expect that the HHS mandate will not survive the legal challenges being brought against it — the facts and the law are on our side. However, should the mandate eventually withstand the legal challenges, and the government’s will prevail, we will face a number of difficult questions as we ponder how best to go forward.

We will have to consider, for example, whether obedience to the compulsive power of the government in this matter is in any way morally permissible; we will have to consider the legal, moral, and financial implications of non-compliance; we will have to consider the implications of not providing health insurance for our employees; and we will have to consider whether health coverage arrangements are possible which would not require compliance with the mandate.

Finally, let me say that we will make every effort not to let the work of the College be compromised in any essential way by government mandates. This being the Year of Faith, I call upon all of us to trust in God to show us the way.


Posted: November 26, 2012