May 16th, 2012
04:25 PM ET

College drops health care plan over religious objections to new law

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – A Catholic college in Ohio has apparently become the nation’s first to drop its health care plan because it opposes parts of the federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama.

The Franciscan University of Steubenville posted on its website last week that it is discontinuing its health care plan.

“The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover ‘women’s health services’ including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” the university says.

“We will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life,” the statement says.

The coverage includes emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, which can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, but not drugs like RU-486, which can end an early pregnancy.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The school is also dropping its health insurance plan for students because the new health care law requires employers to provide more robust coverage, making it more expensive, said Tom Sofio, a spokesman for the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

“It was our own moral reasons and then the rising cost of health care because of the act,” Sofio said, explaining the university’s decision.

Sofio said school officials are not aware of another college that has dropped its health insurance plan out of disagreements with the federal health care law.

A spokeswoman for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing three religious schools that are challenging the health care law, said that she was also unaware of another college that had taken such action.

A spokeswoman with the Health and Human Services Department, charged with implementing the new health care law, said Wednesday that the department had no comment on the school’s decision and that it does not keep track of changes to college health insurance plans.

The Obama administration faced a firestorm of controversy from many religious groups this year over a proposed rule that would require employers to provide no-cost contraception coverage to their employees.

In what it called a compromise, the White House revised the rule to require health insurance companies – not employers – to provide contraception coverage, mollifying some Catholic critics. Other Catholic groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are not satisfied by the revised rule.

The Roman Catholic Church opposes the use of contraception.

“We’re paying the health insurance company, and if they provide abortion-causing drugs, that’s against our religious beliefs,” Sofio said Wednesday.

About 200 of the Franciscan University of Steubenville's 2,500 students rely on the university health care plan, which costs about $50 a month, Sofio said. He said the school is retaining its health care plan for employees because it is hopeful that legal challenges to the health care law will prevent much of it from taking effect.

Sofio said that the school sent letters about its decision to students and parents in April and that it has received overwhelming support from both constituencies. Ninety-five percent of students at the university are Catholic, he said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Politics

soundoff (1,561 Responses)
  1. Denverly

    Absolutely disgusting. I hope this helps people realize just how backward and useless Catholicism is. They have a moral objection to both birth control and reporting pedophiles. Useless bunch of morons.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Doug

      What is most striking is that they eliminated the health plan for students, but not for themselves (the faculty and administration). It speaks volumes that they are passionate enough about the issue to make other people (the students) sacrifice their health care, but not passionate enough to sacrifice their own. What hypocrites.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      A slight modification to what you're saying... it's not just how backward useless catholicism is, but how all religion is backward and useless.

      May 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • 1ofTheFallen

      Spoken like that all knowing liberal. Do as I say not as I do. Then condemn your president for bowing down to the Saudi Kings.

      May 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  2. Julnor

    Ah, the unintended consequences of govt action. When will the 537 lawmakers in DC learn that they cannot predict what will happen when they try to control what people do?

    May 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • momoya

      Indeed.. I agree.. The funny part is, it just exposed a group of azzholes as being absolute fvckwad dipsh1ts.. I hope to see more reactions like this that shows the public just how fvcking retarded organizations like this really are.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Julnor

      momoya, you shouldn't be so hard on the democrats. They're well meaning, just mis-guided.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Don't mean the Dems. mean the selfish, blind, ignorant Catholic Church.
      If they stopped taking federal moneys, then they don't HAVE to provide FULL healthcare services. Stop taking federal funds crybabies!!

      May 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • momoya


      May 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • sarah

      This was totally unpredictable. A school dropping insurance cover because it was too expensive and calling it a protest as a cover story. Oh the shock and horror. 😛

      May 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  3. Roy

    We will see many more instances of this if Obama Care is not deleted. Businesses will go to most part time employees if they are to survive. It's only just begun.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • momoya

      Roy, you know that this is not about Obamacare.. Grow some brain cells.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Julnor

      momoya, you are totally wrong. The mandate from the govt that insurance must cover birth control is part of the govt's interpretation of a provision in Obamacare that requires coverage of preventive services. As if pregnancy is a disease.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • momoya

      Junior, birth-control meds help many health issues not related to s3x.. The issue is that this school got their panties in a wad and then pulled up their skirts to show the whole country their sh!t infested privates.. Fvck jackwads like this who act like spoiled two year olds.. This isn't kindergarten.. Fvck 'em.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • zzzzz

      Funny that same was said when SS and MC was passed, how all business will exit the uSA...
      It is not going to happened.

      The USA is still one of the largest markets and rich country, so if you want to be part of this country, take care of your country and countrymen/women.

      I thought "God provided" as with free will, and the health care is either a benefit/business, or is it "God give right" ?
      Which is it ?
      Either way they should provide it based on law or based on their believes, and if the people have the "free will" not to follow the churches teaching that is on the "sinners".

      May 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • critical thinker

      The trend in the private sector already started down this path of reducing health care insurance. This is why Obamacare was passed well aftter this downward spiral in an attempt to prevent it. Look at what companies did to defined benefit pensions...they shifted it to the workers and now the workers compalin that they do not have enough saved to retire unless they work much longer. The only ones who would really benefit from the repeal of Obamacare are the one percenters where cost is not an issue for quality health care.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • hippie power 69

      the same thing has been said about social security, medicare, minimum wage the 40 hour work week, overtime, child labor laws you name it. it is all bulls–t. it is about covering people with healthcare. it is about being able to go to the doctor if you are sick and not sit in an emergency room for hours. we are the only industrialized country in the world that does not have healthcare for its people. it is not about right or left, it is about what kind of country you want to live in. one that takes care of its people if they need it or one that wages wars and feeds the MIC with all of our children? what happened to americans taking care of their fellow americans? i always thought we were the greatest country in the world, i don't feel that way anymore.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • tibeau

      Really, big business has been doing this for years. Many people at Walmart, Winn Dixie, and other major stores work 40 or more hours, but are not considered full time, therefore no benefits. It's all about the money, no matter who your talking about.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • David

      What you and this college and other conservatives want to gleefully ignore is healthcare costs were projected to rise at double digit rates infinitely, approaching 20% of GDP, becoming completely unsustainable for business, government, and individuals. way before Obamcare. Obamacare put every conceivable republican cost saving idea into the healthcare bill. The irony of all this is that if Obama care fails or is struck down by the courts it will guarantee a single payer system. There will be no other untried free market ideas left. These aren't my words they are your beloved conservative Charles Krauthammer's.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  4. valwayne

    What a surprise! Obama's persecution of Christianity is already wreaking havok. Obama is the worst President in U.S. history!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • fred

      If only the politicians could and would persecute Christianity using our laws. For tax evasion, murder, incitement to hatred, and other crimes that have been done because of Christian dogma.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      LOL!! You are freaking HIGH!

      May 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • fred

      The above fred is not the fred everyone has come to love on this web site. But, everyone already knew that.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  5. Jeremy

    There should be NO such thing as religious schools, period.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • nopenotbuyingit

      there should not be anything like libtard socialists either

      May 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • rand

      Isn't this a free country?

      May 16, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Steve

      I attended Catholic school for a few years and I absolutely hated it. Having said that, they have every right to exist. Public schools are failing in many parts of the country – especially in the city where I live now. Parents have right every right to send their kids to whatever school they would like and pay whatever tuition that school wants to charge.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Julnor

      Yes, Jeremy should be the sole decider of what everyone should be learning. ALL HAIL JEREMY!!!

      May 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • momoya

      So now Jeremy can't share his opinion???

      May 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • demrules

      It's weird that Catholics can turn a deaf ear to child molestation and mob ties associated with Catholicism, but they condemn and criticize about morals and decency. Unfortunately, Catholics have been programmed to think that the "church" has the power to send one to heaven or hell. Catholicism is NOT an official national religion of the U.S. They should drop their federal non-profit protection status is they don't want the government to intervene in their affairs. Just stop accepting government money! Simple!

      May 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  6. Yakobi

    OK, so it should also return all federal and state money it receives. After all, they don't want to appear as hypocrites, right?

    May 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  7. willis

    who cares if they drop it! and why should any religious group get a say in what the government chooses to do its call separation of church and state...they should out down their bibles and read about that instead.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • rand

      Um.............isn't this a case of the religious group NOT having a say in what the gov't does?? I think you have it backwards.........

      May 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  8. cc

    "We will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life" so they'll violate the consistent teachings about taking care of their employees. So much for 'sacredness'.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • rand

      They WERE taking care of their employees until the FEDS stepped in with MANDATES!

      May 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • tibeau


      Since 1980 Winn Dixie Grocery stores have worked people, 40 or more hours,, and still not classified them as full time. They get NO benefits. It's a money thing, the stores say they can't afford insurance at the present rate. The insurance company says they have to charge more, because health care cost more, to cover those not insured. The health care professionals say they have to charge more, because they have to charge people with insurance more, to cover the cost of treating the uninsured and underinsured. Someone that is lucky enough to have insurance, pays 600 per month or more, then have to pay a co-pay, and deductible. A cirlce in a circle in a circle, with the average american left holding the bag, and health care and Insurance executives making million dollar bonuses.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  9. Walter

    I am not Catholic, nor even that religious, but some of these posts are ridiculous. Because one school decides to do something you paint the entirety of all Catholic organizations with the same brush? Come on!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • rand

      This is what liberals do................I think we should paint all of them as being as crazy as Code Pink!

      May 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Renee'

      haters gonna hate! It is a sad world when we disagree with something and because of it we slander or accuse or call names.......I am Catholic and know of a student there who supports it whole heartedly. I think I'm going to have to stop reading all the hate on here. Night.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  10. Voice of Reason

    Incredible! This is just beyond ludicrous.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  11. momoya

    What a fvcking dovchebag move!!!!

    Like little bratty kids; we can't get our way so we'll just take our ball and go home.. Are catholics little whiny babies or just retarded?

    May 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  12. Franciscan University Student

    Hello, Ohio State!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Ohio State Student

      All better now.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • critical thinker

      OSU is a good choice even though Kent State is closer to Steubenville. Students who protest at Kent State risk getting shot by Gov. Kasich's national guard militia led by hard-right-liners. The only difference between Kasich and the Pope is that the Pope outranks Jesus Christ whereas Kasich believes he is on par with Jesus Christ.

      May 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
  13. Iconoclast

    The fact that they dropped the coverage for the students and kept the coverage for employees SAYS IT ALL! It looks like they used this as AN EXCUSE to drop student coverage, which costs them money. They kept the employee coverage because they are "hopeful that legal challenges to the health care law will prevent much of it from taking effect", so that same reasoning would apply to the students health policy, but they dropped it anyway. Either way you look at it, the students and employees should not be punished for anything that the government is doing. If they are all such good Catholics, THEY WON'T USE THE CONTRACEPTION SERVICES. The health care law doesn't say people have to use it, but they completely ignore that. I hope that this blows up in their face!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Patriarchae

      You really can't expect too much in terms of logic or morality from a Catholic school.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Hazel Moates

      Precisely! Students have no power, but waging war with the faculty is another matter. What a bunch of hypocrites.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  14. ME II

    Did I read that correctly?
    They are discontinuing the student plan because it goes against their morals (oh, and it costs too much)
    But they are continuing the employee plan because, they hope it will be legislated/adjudicated away?

    Nothing like a crystal clear message...

    May 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Searching for a cure to the nightmare of Cathoholic addiction

      You read it correctly. The crystal-clear message that I get from it is that Catholic children are always going to be expendable cannon-fodder for the Church.

      May 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • momoya

      Yep.. This is one religion that needs to die ugly and fast.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • nopenotbuyingit

      nope .. you didn't read correctly.

      They are dropping it ALL.. they are "retaiing" the employee plan – all that means is they are keeping that plan on reserve with the insurance provider in the hopes that when this bogus plan is thrown out, they can pick it back up again without going thru the red tape of obtaining a brand new policy.
      Good for them!!!!

      May 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Julnor

      Remember, when an employer provides health benefits it does so as an incentive to attract employees. If they drop the coverage for employees they will lose people which means they will have to hire more people which probably costs them a lot of money.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  15. True Story

    Outlaw these vermin already.
    They fully deserve to be drowned in a tsunami of boiling feces.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Chris

      Yes, and I suppose all the services they provide to help the less fortunate ($780 million worth from Catholic Relief Services alone in 2010) should disappear too. Maybe you rabid bigots can pick up the tab?

      May 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • J.W

      Anyone can donate to Catholic Relief Services. It does not all come from the Catholic Church.

      May 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Searching for a cure to the nightmare of Cathoholic addiction

      Biggest source of donations to CRS?

      2011 US government grants and agreements $312,830,000

      Yep – it's our tax dollars in disguise. Bet you didn't know you were helping Catholicism look good with other peoples' money!

      May 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Chris

      And that's why I wrote "services". Someone has to actually translate the cash into services.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • momoya

      Fvck catholic charity and services.. If they're going to be this fvcking whiny and stupid then they can get the fvck out of the US.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  16. Reality

    Condoms are available over the counter. Make the Pill available over the counter and there will be no more debate.

    Planned Parenthood can offer deep discounts for those who say they cannot afford said protection.

    Or better yet, put a pack of condoms and a box of Pills in cereal boxes. Unfortunately, that would not ensure the condoms and/or Pills would be used. Based on Guttmacher Insti-tute data, said condoms and/or Pills are currently not being used as they should. (one million abortions/yr and 19 million cases of S-TDs/yr because either the daily Pill was not taken or a condom stayed in the pocket.)

    Maybe selling Pill-enriched sodas??? Hmmm?

    Condom-fitted briefs for men?? Hmmm? 🙂

    The door is open for other ideas!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Julnor

      I fully agree with making the pill an over the counter drug.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Gezellig

      a box of Pills in cereal boxes

      Except for Fruit Loops, of course.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • sarah

      You can't make the pill over the counter. You need a doctor to monitor your progress. By eliminating it from healthcare coverage and attacking planned parenthood, they are essentially trying to prevent couples from having access to the pill. 90% of Catholics use BC. Who do you think they're trying to control?

      May 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  17. Religion: It's What Makes Dark Ages Dark

    Psycho Catholics, Qu'est-ce que c'est?

    Just when you think that religious people just cannot get any crazier, they do. Playing politics is more important than having health care for students. What a bunch of sleazy low-life scum!

    May 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  18. Reality

    From the topic commentary: "The Roman Catholic Church opposes the use of contraception." It should read: "The RCC opposes the use of artificial contraception. "

    But let us address the real issue:

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use" as opposed to the typical/actual failure rate noted previously.

    1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate) – RCC approved
    1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by:

    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent) – RCC Approved
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent) – RCC Approved
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)- RCC Approved

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    May 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  19. Bootyfunk

    awesome. they would rather the kids at the college have no health plan. yeah, you guys really seem to care. and all this at a school for higher learning. LOL.

    education + religion go together like oil + water.

    May 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Searching for a cure to the nightmare of Cathoholic addiction

      What I find curious is that 95% of the students are Catholic, which means that 5% are non-Catholics going to a bottom-of-the-barrel Catholic college. I guess they were either too stupid to realize it was a Catholic school, or too stupid to get into even a crappy non-Catholic college.

      I find it also interesting that Catholics are willing to let their childrens be the victims of their own religion, and that the clergy/faculty gets to keep their health insurance. Sacrificial lambs.

      May 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  20. Jonathan

    Way to go!

    May 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.