Pro-life students at Creighton University, a Jesuit-affiliated school in Omaha, Nebraska and Phoenix, Arizona, have filed a case against the educational institution over its newly established vaccine mandate.
Under the vaccine mandate, students must show proof that they have received at least one dose of thje COVID vaccine before they are allowed to attend classes on campus. The school allowed students to apply for medical exemptions, but refused to grant any religious exemptions.
According to the Christian Post, the lawsuit against the Catholic university was filed in the District Court of Douglas County, Nebraska on Wednesday by attorney Robert Sullivan, who represents Creighton University students Lauren Ramaekers, Patrice Quadrel, Sarah Stinsel and Jane Doe.
The lawsuit read that Creighton University announced all students must have had at least a dose of the COVID vaccine by September 7. Students who did not comply by the set deadline would automatically be "'unenrolled' or administratively withdrawn after 4:30 p.m. on that date."
"Each of the plaintiffs have religious objections to the Covid-19 vaccines based on the fact that the vaccines were developed and/or tested using abortion derived fetal cell lines and some have serious medical conditions which make the vaccine 'not recommended,'" Sullivan argued. He added that vaccines which are "developed and/or tested using abortion derived fetal cell lines" has divided church members because of its stance on abortion.
While the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans ordered faithful Catholics not to take the "morally compromised" single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it allegedly used aborted fetal cells in production and testing, the Vatican said that "it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process."
As per the lawsuit, the Catholic school's vice provost for student life Tanya Winegard sent Ramaekers a notice telling her that she was "in violation of the Creighton University Standards of Conduct" for failing to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 7. It also argued that since the students have been "attending classes since the semester started," the school "has accepted tuition money and other fees" that the students "have paid."
The lawsuit argues further that keeping the students' tuition fees while expelling them from the school for refusing to get vaccinated constituted a breach of contract and demanded that the Catholic university "re-enroll and [reinstate] Plaintiffs to Creighton University" and refrain from punishing them for their vaccination status.
ABC News reported that religious objections were "once used sparingly" to get exemption from vaccine mandates but are now "becoming a much more widely used loophole against the COVID-19 shot." Despite varying vaccine mandates across different states, most offer exemptions for medical or religious or philosophical reasons. Over the past decade, parents have increasingly used these exemptions on behalf of their schoolchildren, possibly putting other kids at risk.
The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 made way for this allowance to be enacted as it orders employers to "make reasonable accommodations for employees who object to work requirements because of 'sincerely held' religious beliefs." The COVID vaccine rollout has sparked debate because of the role cell lines from fetal tissue have played in its development.