Two years ago, as I sat in the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court, I was crestfallen. Oklahoma Wesleyan’s lawsuit against Obamacare and its unjust abortifacient mandate — a mandate that forced my university, under threat of law, to include abortion-inducing drugs in our health insurance package — hung in the balance. Justice Antonin Scalia had just died. All hope for a majority ruling in favor of our religious freedom seemed lost.
Then two things happened.
First, Justice Anthony Kennedy unexpectedly swung to the side of conservative judges John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in recognizing the absurdity of the federal government ever presuming to “hijack” the privately purchased health insurance of pro-life organizations like Oklahoma Wesleyan University and, thereby, forcing us to pay for and provide chemically induced abortion services to our employees.
Second, six months later Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.
The result of Justice Kennedy’s wisdom was that the Supreme Court voted to do something it almost never does: It sent the Obamacare mandates back to the lower appeals courts and demanded reconsideration.
The result of Donald Trump’s election? He proved me and millions of others wrong.
During the 2016 campaign, I said over and over again that Mr. Trump’s claims of being pro-life were disingenuous at best. In fact, in a piece I wrote in January 2016 titled “Trumping Morality,” I specifically repudiated the then-primary candidate for the Republican nomination. In my column, picked up by Fox News, this newspaper and a host of others, I said, “Donald Trump simply doesn’t represent Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s moral or political ideals . Anyone who is pro-abortion is not on my side . Anyone who has argued for the merits of a government takeover of healthcare is not on my side.” I then doubled down: “I’m a conservative. I believe in conserving the dignity of life . I believe in conserving the Constitution. I believe in conserving religious liberty and human freedom . I’ve read, I’ve listened and I’ve studied and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in this man’s track record that makes Donald Trump on my side.”
I was wrong.
Oh, I still have my concerns about Mr. Trump’s personal behavior. I find his past moral flagrancy to be repugnant. I wish he would simply stop some of his juvenile tit-for-tat on Twitter. I still think he should just apologize to those who have suffered his ad hominem wrath, innuendo and exaggerations. If one more “evangelical leader” gets his photograph taken in Trump Tower with Mr. Trump’s framed cover of Playboy magazine in the background I am going to scream. But, all that aside, when it comes to my claims that Donald Trump was not legitimately pro-life, I was wrong, dead wrong.
This month, a federal judge in Oklahoma blocked the Obamacare mandate that forced my university, as a requirement of federal law, to provide abortion-inducing drugs to our faculty and staff. “Forcing Oklahoma Wesleyan University to provide life-ending drugs to employees violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot said in his May 15 ruling.
Judge Friot went further and actually ordered a permanent injunction against the unconstitutional Obama rules. He said colleges like Oklahoma Wesleyan University have shown, and the government “now concede[s],” that requiring a Christian pro-life organization such as ours to comply with rules that contradict our religious beliefs clearly violates federal law. This permanent injunction now protects people of conviction and faith from further government overreach and harm.
Judge Friot’s conclusion is clear: The “public interest in the vindication of religious freedom” also requires that the government be barred from forcing Oklahoma Wesleyan University to provide “drugs, devices, procedures, patient counseling and education” under the auspices of the Obamacare abortion-pill mandate. It also explicitly prohibits any enforcement actions against us for “past, present, or future noncompliance” with Obamacare’s unconscionable and unconstitutional rules.
And lest there be any misunderstanding, Judge Friot went further and ordered the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to “rescind and retract” a letter it had sent to our health insurance provider that apparently led our insurance company to believe it was required to provide, pay for and, thereby, impose abortifacient coverage upon all of Oklahoma Wesleyan University’s health-plan beneficiaries.
I was not a Trump fan during the primary and I still have my concerns. But if Hillary Clinton were now my president, there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Texas you’d be reading the above story. Because of Donald Trump, the abortifacient mandate imposed on my university has been rescinded. Because of Donald Trump, my religious freedom and yours has been preserved. Because of Donald Trump, the “government now concedes” that it is lunacy for a bunch of arrogant Washington bureaucrats to presume to tell the women at Oklahoma Wesleyan University that they know more than these women do about what kind of contraception should be included in their health insurance.
I’ll continue to challenge President Trump when he’s wrong, but in like manner, I will thank him when he’s right. When it comes to being pro-life, he is right, and I was wrong.
• Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is the author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).