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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. rcflyer8410

    This is why religion has no place in matters of law, common sense, or reason. You won't argue successfully with the religious mind, as there is no basis in logic, fact, or reason in their argument to begin with. These people were likely indoctrinated as children, and were taught 'what' to think, as opposed to 'how' to think. You would have better luck arguing with a 3 year old as to the logic of his imaginary friend being real or not, or a paranoid schizophrenic that everyone isn't out to get him.
    One thing is for certain... be it the suicide bombings, or bombing of abortion clinics. The problem isn't necessarily extremism or so-called terrorism....the problem is religion, and the imaginary friend that is the star – god.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  2. Steve

    Now this really helps people. Such compassion.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  3. bla

    Good.

    I won't loose any sleep over members of the Jesus Christ fanclub not being able to get medical care. Maybe they can just pray away their injuries.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Bill Deacon Is Ignorant

      If they think about it real hard to their imaginary friend in the sky, all of their problems will go away. The fact that It's 2012 and people still believe this is incredible.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Dev

      It is incredible that in the year 2012 people still believe all life is precious. You'd think the liberals would have done away with that nonsense by now.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  4. BOBBY

    That crap...they are using it as an excuse to save money...it is a worthless stupid place to go to school anyway, A student would be better off reading Wikipedia for for years and printing a diploma off the internet than blowing 100 grand to attend this dump anyway.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  5. Pflady

    The Church is making this anti-contraception fuss as a distraction from all the priestly pedophilia.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Joe

      Thats rediculous you dumbazz

      May 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  6. dbrock010

    If a student still wants to buy birth control, it would still be less than the $50 per month they were currently paying for the health insurance. Where are the Protestants on this battle? I know they don't support abortion.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • momoya

      Yep.. People can buy their own birth control, and catholic organizations can make stupid, spiteful decisions that show they use the intellect of a bratty four year old taking his ball and going home..

      May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Artanis

      The majority of Protestant divisions are anti-abortion, but pro-conception. I haven't actually heard of any of them making a strong stance one way or the other about the legislation.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Stumped

      This has nothing to do with abortion. Did you read the article?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  7. Peter

    The city should shut off water and electricity to the school and cut off access to it via city streets. They obviously want to live in their own free world and don't want anything to do with paying taxes or abiding by the government when it comes to the well being of the citizenry so why should they get the benefits afforded to those who do?

    May 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • momoya

      What a great idea.. You act like a whiny baby, we treat you like a whiny baby.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Joe

      Only when their right of their beliefs are infringed on by the government. The government gave them no choice. Either contradict your own beliefs or drop their insurance. Its that simple.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • jacy tx

      Joe, where was your objection a few years ago, when the law was the same. When healthcare coverage already covered for contraception? where was the school's objection then? don't you see that this is just posturing just to save a buck and make a point?

      May 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  8. jacy tx

    Has anybody realize that the new healthcare law was basically just updating something that was already in the law, such as healthcare coverage for women, including contraception? Certain groups are using this as a poor excuse to get out of providing healthcare coverage and as a lie for people who do not keep up with current events who are not aware that they are being used by certain political groups, such as the right. It is a shame. Just wait until kids start getting sick, or need any kind of medical help. Have they thought what happens then? The lawmakers who created this objection due to "moral terms" have given the go ahead for employers to stop providing basic care for any reason whatsoever. This is totally a backwards move.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • momoya

      It's a religious organization.. What'd you expect?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • jacy tx

      Momoya, my point is, why didn't they object before? the law has included coverage for contraception for years, not just now, so why didn't they object before? This is just a shameless political posturing move at the cost of the health of their students.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • momoya

      I agree..

      May 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  9. guest

    so by protecting unborn children, they're leaving everyone else vulnerable to sickness and disease. great tradeoff guys, makes complete sense.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • momoya

      Somebody doens't understand how contraception works.. Oi!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • jacy tx

      that is just it..they are telling people that "the are protecting unborn children", when most of contraception is not abortive. They could have just prevented that one drug, that's it. They are using this as a cheap excuse. What a way to set an example! shame on them!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Joe

      They were given no choice. It was either contradict their own teachings and beliefs or drop the coverage. But you wouldn't understand that because the government hasn't stepped on your rights....Yet

      May 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  10. Too Much

    Bill, if you go to a catholic college or work there...you have to expect to play by their rules....go elsewhere if you disagree. That is true liberty for all.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Bobby

      If you want to receive Govt funds then you play by Govt rules. If you don't like it go elsewhere. I doubt they would have students if it were not for federal aid.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • jacy tx

      So, if their objection is legitimate, why didn't they make it years ago? Healthcare and contraception has been covered for years....this is just an excuse to make fuss and get people against this administration. If they were really doing this because of "rules" or the "bible" then there would be many many other things the shouldn't allow, and they don't. It is total hypocrisy

      May 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  11. lunchbreaker

    Can anybody find a Bible verse condemning birth conrol?

    May 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No. You can't find one condemning slavery either. What's your point?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jim

      Genesis 38:9 – deals with a man using birth control, and God kills him for it. It's an admittedly weak and archaic reference, but it's there.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Peter

      @Bill Deacon Slavery is not a choice someone makes for him/herself. There is a big difference when you disallow someone to make a choice for their own body and allowing someone to make a choice for someone else. And don't pull the crap about an egg cell being a person.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Jim

      Bill, there are a LOT of passages dealing with slavery. It's neither condoned or rejected in the Bible – it was just a fact of life back then. But Southern preachers pre-Civil War would frequently use the passages to justify slavery. Abolitionists would also find scripture to support their position.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Mark

      How about "Thou shalt not kill"? God wrote it Himself.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      The point would be that if it is not in the Bible then the Catholic church made it up.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  12. Brad

    They consistently teach and believe that contraception is against the moral principals of the church and 97% of their female members consistently ignore that edict. It's like consistently teaching that 2 plus 2 equals 5, while your stundents know that the real answer is 4 but are afraid to tell the teacher. Amazing.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No, it's like teaching that 2 plus 2 equals 4 but everyone wants it to be 5. As long as everyone else acts like five is ok it all seems good. It still isn't right but no one seems to mind. The truth the Church upholds is that every life is sacred from the moment of conception. If women who profess the faith opt to ignore the truth for their own convenience that is their issue, not the Church's

      May 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Frank

      The Church teaches that certain actions are sinful, but also recognizes that all people sin. Just because everyone sins does not mean the Church should teach that there is no such thing as sin, or that specific actions are sinful. Also, I believe that 97% statistic refers to Catholic women who have at some time used contraception, not actively using it at the time of the poll. Again, it shows that at some time a person has failed to follow the church's teaching. That is not surprising. All Catholics have failed to follow a teach at some point. That is no argument that the Church should change its position.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon Is Ignorant

      If the church is so committed to human life, then why are they denying their employees medical care because of one little caveat? Taking birth control is not mandatory, so a real Christian wouldn't take the pill anyways if it goes against their beliefs. The Church has no faith in its employees or followers. The Church is a joke.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Joe

      Brad, You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. There are a lot of speed limits out on our roads but you don't see a whole lot of people abiding by them now do you. That doesn't give a sound reason to get rid of speed limits now does it.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  13. Newmoon2

    So I guess when Jesus said, 'Suffer the little children', I guess we should take that quite literally! Suffer they will as long as the religious right has their say about things.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Clarify

      So killing them instead is a much better interpretation?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • momoya

      Who is killing children?? Do some people really not understand how contraception works?!?!!?!?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What you seem to ignore is that the college was providing health care coverage before the government came along to dictate the terms. Who exactly is forcing whom?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Clarify

      Momoya...some, not all, types of contraception do kill children. It is not a wide brush as you seem to think.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Sea Saints

      "Suffer the little children" is taken from the King James version which uses Old English, 1611. Back then suffer has the equivalent of permit. Hence permit the little children.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Clarify

      If it's too broad a brush, then why'd you use it?? You do remember your first reply, here?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • jacy tx

      Bill Deacon, please dude...keep quiet, you are embarrasing yourself. The school, like any other employer, already provided coverage for contraception. The new law basically had to go back and update everything in healthcare coverage because is a "new law". The school didn't protest contraception before, why is it protesting now?? And besides, are you aware that contraception does not equal abortion? Some people here are a bit ignorant on certain healthcare issues. Also, don't just blame it on women, it takes two to tango...

      May 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  14. Ron B

    Wow, the catholic church fu#king over it's students. and faculity.... is it any wonder why so many leave the catholic church........

    May 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • want2believe

      No no, you got it wrong. They are keeping health care for the employees. Jesus would be so proud.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Stumped

      If a believer did some honest research on the internet with an open mind it shouldn’t take more than 4 hours to realize you’ve been brainwashed. Don’t feel bad though! It’s happened to billions of people by hundreds of religions! It’s the information age, time to move on.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • lgibbs27

      Catholic church numbers remain nearly double that of Protestantism, which is second among christian denominations. The Catholic church was the only christian denomination to see fractional growth in 2011 in US; others declined.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Joe

      The government gave them no choice Ron, Its either contradict their own beliefs or drop their insurance. They will not contradict their beliefs.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  15. Abe Lincoln

    Separation of church and state is becoming a memory. Government inflicting their morality on churches is the new reality. It's a sad and dangerous time for freedom in America as our intrusive government wields it's power.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • want2believe

      The government is not inflicting it's morals on a church. This school and all the hospitals fighting this are business out to make a profit. This is no way near as bad as the churches inflicting their morals on citizens of this country.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Mike

      Whatever; if the church didn't want to answer to the government, it should stay out of the people's business and not open schools and hospitals. You can't have it both ways.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Artanis

      You do realize that what was meant by 'separation of church and state' was that they should prevent Christianity from being forced on everyone as a state religion? Not that morality shouldn't be upheld?

      May 17, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Joe

      Ok Mike lets get rid of all the schools and hospitals that the church has. You wanna see prices sky rocket. With the shortage of health care and school out there no one would be able to afford either.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  16. Anomic Office Drone

    ...And their best employees started looking for other jobs immediately.

    Also, it's absurd that you still have to differentiate between the Morning After pill and the abortion pill. If people still don't get that, maybe they should just be excluded from the discussion.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  17. Joe Mama

    Phuckem please tell me you see the irony in you calling them jihadists because they refuse to accept your beliefs. Oh please tell me you see it. That's a polite way of me calling you a hypocrite. If you want contraception coverage, maybe don't go to a strict Catholic school? Seems fair enough to me.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      @Joe Mama
      Voicing ones opinion and forcing it on others if the difference you seem to be missing.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • lisaspups

      Catholicism is full of hypocrisy. And, then, let us address the percentage of Catholic women that are on birth control. I also would like to point out the mis-statement that they were required to provided abortion pills which is inaccurate. I wonder how much more of their problems with the healthcare law are just as inaccurate.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Clarify

      Tom, voicing one's opinion is simply freedom in its finest. "Forcing", as you call it, a company's moral standards on its employees or in this case, students, is just another facet of freedom. Free enterprise means you can work for or pick someplace else to do your business if you don't like it. A company can create and impose their standards as they see fit. Shall we do away with our rights to encompass the "collective"?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Too Much

      Tom, in what way are they "forcing" their religion on people? If you don't agree with them (which I don't), then don't work there or be a student there....simple enough!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  18. crusader12

    People who believe that their imaginary friend in the sky gives them morale authority over their world need to be stopped before they start burning witches and persecuting heretics again. I'm not for big federal gov't at all, but the religious losers in this country need to be stopped.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Well they have been stopped. At least at this college, they have been stopped from providing health care for their student's and employees.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Clarify

      Your implication of "religious losers" is much akin to the implication to witch burning and persecuting heretics. Are you advocating the same behavior be done to the religious?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • momoya

      What a stupid statement, Clarify.. "Oh waaaaah, you don't like me anymore.. why don't you just kill me.. oh waaaaahh!!!!"

      May 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "witch burning and persecuting heretics. Are you advocating the same behavior be done to the religious?"

      That would be awesome. Let's start with the pedophile priests and then move on to fundamentalist bible thumpers. Actually, now that I think upon it, I think you have just identified a new alternative fuel source for the U.S.!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  19. notatall

    Once again "Religion" shows stupidity. Play by the laws of the country or take your religion elsewhere, please. We Christians don't need your cult.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes people who live life according to their deeply held convictions are stupid if they differ from mine

      May 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Artanis

      Umm... hate to tell you this but the Roman Catholic Church is one of the three major branches of Christianity. So you don't really make any sense there.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Artanis

      Also, should point out that Christianity is a "religion".

      May 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  20. Too Much

    This is fine. Let them drop health care for students and even employees if they have to. That is up to them. And any student or employee who goes there can make the decision if they agree or not when they choose to attend or work there.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      And ‘we’ can call them backward Christians jihadist if we want. What is your point?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Too Much

      Tom, the point is...to each their own. Liberty for all....you don't have to agree with them. But let them to their beliefs, it doesn't hurt you.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      If you believe in the freedom of choice then why not allow the college to select and offer a plan of their own choosing? Or do you really not believe in freedom of choice?

      May 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • momoya

      All organizations have the "right" to act like a stupid, bratty four year old.. This organization just decided to actually do it. LOL!!

      May 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
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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.