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.

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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. Lou

    Not every college student is covered by their parents (some actually are older than 26). So I guess this university decided that the loss of life/health caused by not having medical coverage or going to the doctor for preventative care outweighs the possibility that some students *might* choose to use the morning after pill (Plan B) or contraception (note – plan B is not abortion). Presumably, if their students are strict Catholics, they would choose NOT to do such things of their own accord. Is this really "right to life"?

    May 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  2. Kindness

    A thought to consider without a typical ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Let go and let god".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome .

    May 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Your all smart people . I tell the truth."

      LMAO! Your all smart people . I tell the truth. = EGO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • JPX

      When I read something like this I become so sad that people are so stupid. All this over religious nonsense

      May 22, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • DBLA

      "You are" is spelled "You're", not "your". "You're" is a contraction of "you are" while "your" is the possessive of "you". I won't bother pointing out the other misspellings which are rampant in YOUR post. If YOU'RE going write about being smart, you should probably proof-read your post so you don't look like an elementary school dropout.

      May 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm |

      It's no coincidence you keep spouting Paulian nonsense. That con-artist could sure talk up a storm, couldn't he?

      Too bad he not only never met Jesus – he rarely EVER refers to ANYTHING that Jesus said or did. In fact – Paul puts himself before Christ and showed the sin of PRIDE in almost every epistle and letter he wrote.

      FALSE PROFITS – and you're following one.

      May 22, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  3. M DS

    Just to be clear, the Catholic Church probably opposes contraception b/c in the early days of that religion they wanted to outbreed the "heathens" and increase the church's political power. There is no good or logical reason to oppose birth control. FYI: I'm a married female and also not an atheist. I just personally don't want to be fiscally and emotionally responsible for 5+ children.

    May 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • A Candid Look

      If you read the bible you will see that we were told to be fruitful and multiply.... so now this seems to fly in the face of that request....

      May 22, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  4. Mike from Calgary

    This is the latest element in the perfect storm against Obama!

    Too bad for the Republicans and the Conservatives and the taxpayers that the Republicans appear to also have selected the weakest most flawed candidate. What should have been a slam dunk for the Democrats is now in jeopardy!

    May 22, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  5. Ronda in Houston, TX


    “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.

    Give me a break Sofio. As for not offering health care to your students, I guess you figured that daddy or mommy can carry their children on their health plan until 26 years of age. This is what you should have said in the first place, you coward!!!

    May 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  6. Frogman

    The Roman church does not take it well when anyone tries to place limits on its innate religious right to limit the exercise of the religious rights of others.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Karen

      That's a strect you attempted in another post Frogman. This is a political power play and you prefer that. I would advise a political science course or many human behavior. You fell for the setup. Give a little to gain favor and take a lot. This was meant to create havoc within the church- to disenfranchise women (or to cause them to think they are) for poiltical gain. Use your head- Why this, why now when our econcomy is in such bad shape and money is running out for their unemployment and our debt is mounting- contraception???? Let's get real! Hook line and sinker- yuo've been boated my man.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  7. eleanor fitzgerald

    If we had single payer health care or Medicare for all in this country, this kind of problem for religious instiutions or employers opposed to birth control options for women would not have this power over women's lives in their hands. Another plus is that the prohibitive financial burden on small businesses of providing health care insurance would be gone making it possible to hire more employees and expand. That would create many more jobs in this country and improve the economy, It is also a solution not in conflict with Separation of Church and State.!

    May 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Karen

      Lwet's go back to the good old days of sickness and illness coverage only. I have to LOL after living my life without this coverage and not having it ever be an issue. I've always had contraception and worked for organizations that disagreed with contrqaception. Never was an issue- why now? Why now? Why cause a non-issue to become an issue NOW? I guess it is the most pressing important issue of our day? Hmmmm...my how easily we are lead.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  8. Cam


    There IS NO "insurance" for your insurance. NONE of us is safe from a catastrophic illness from wiping out our life savings.

    If you lose your job or your employer stops "subsidizing" your insurance, you are pretty much S.O.L. because COBRA and BCBS are both SUPER-EXPENSIVE.

    Ohhhhh, but none of you tea-baggers wanted "Obamacare." You SCREAMED about how bad the "public option" would be. You whined about how you didn't want the government deciding on your health care. Nooooo, You prefer that a guy working for a FOR-PROFIT health insurance company decide instead.

    Well, I hope all you T-baggers feel REALLY PATRIOTIC when you are facing foreclosure because you or one of your children is sick and the medical bills are bankrupting you.

    Face it, you T-baggers are all pawns of the Republicans who have been bought and paid for by the health insurance companies. (Remember, Congressional Republicans get health insurance for LIFE. You don't.)

    You don't even know that you are fighting against your old well-being. Fools.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  9. Elsie Eye

    So...here's a thought. Instead of punshing these 200 students who rely on this medical insurance for their health, how about you have faith that your students will not use or have need of the drugs and treatments with which you disagree? After all, they are good Catholics, right? Or, are you really saying that people only fall in line with your teachings if they are forced to or prevented from making different choices?

    May 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  10. BADGUY

    I wonder how much profit this organization makes each year? I wonder how much government subsidies it gets each year? WHY is the Catholic Church tax exempt when it defies IRS rules on supporting a candidate for office (Romney)?

    May 22, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Kalessin

      What? You say the Pope openly supports Romney? That is what you are saying in essence right?

      May 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  11. BADGUY

    For those of you who think you're employer provided health care program will continue indefinitely, just checkout the above article. All your employer has to do is stop paying the premiums! There IS NO "insurance" for your insurance. Do you think your opinions on Obamacare might be changing? That's why we need "single payer"!

    May 22, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  12. John

    I hate all minorities, gays, and atheists. If it was up to me I would have them all killed so the Christian and Jewish people could live without fear of persecution.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • BADGUY

      John – And the Republicans say I should be afraid of the Taliban?

      May 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • BADGUY

      John – Cardinal Dolan? Is that YOU?

      May 22, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Peacemaker

      Are you kidding?????????? Hope so. Because what YOU posted is pure..........hate!

      May 22, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Cam

      Glenn Beck why are you using the name "John?"

      Is that your middle name?

      May 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Mag

      I think this over-the-top idiot is just an atheist trying to stir up hate against Christians. I don't really think it's necessary since this is turning into atheist forum for bashing any religion.

      May 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  13. Evangelicals are Crazy

    So now these fools would rather people die for lack of healthcare because of sick and outdated rules? Preservation of life and compassion should be their main concern. One more reason why the Catholics will become moot.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:33 am |
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    May 22, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  15. Al Alvarez in Az

    OK. So, does the school allow military recruiters on campus and do they take funds from DOD? Or does the sacredness of human life diminish as it gets older? One more question: If the fetus they save is gay, will they still fight for its rights?

    May 22, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  16. Kristysgodmother

    I object to an agency or religious organization being tax exempt so they can afford to have more priests molesting young children.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • A Candid Look

      So if they paid taxes it would be okay to molest children???? Be carefull here.... you are singling out an organization to be the object of your hate.... are you trying to say that no other organizations have this problem?????

      May 22, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  17. Kris Jackson

    Yay! We don't have health insurance! Well, that's fine. We're Christians, we can just get Jesus to do one of his magic tricks and heal us. Cure us of the gay, too.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • A Candid Look

      They did not have it in the 19th Century or the early part of the 20th century either .... I wonder how we as a race survived???

      May 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  18. Bob in Texas

    Under the new rules, kids can be covered under their parent's policies until age 26. For those who are not, some enterprising insurance company will come up with a plan independent of the schools, probably at lower cost than the college was charging. This is just another example of Catholic zealots shooting themselves in the foot and making themselves look really stupid.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Elsie Eye

      Lower than $50? Please let my school teacher daughter in on that plan! She pays $180 per month for crappy coverage through her school district!

      May 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • A Candid Look

      So... what would you call the t a l I b a n???? are they zealots??? ... they k i l l women for being unattended in the company of a man thatis not family... would that be shooting themselves in the foot... your passion for bashing Catholics is very evident ... what about those other little problems.....

      May 22, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  19. CBR

    The school has chosen a track which withholds health insurance for its students. Where do these students go if the get ill or need medical advice, counseling, etc. They will be added to the rolls of the uninsured in this country. Those who have insurance find their costs increasing so that hospitals and clinics can treat those without insurance.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  20. wrong side of the bed

    Cool idea..using religious ideals to save a few bucks.More gold chalice for the pervs at the vatican.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • DrewNYC

      It's pretty much the goal of the Catholic Church; money and control. Right under molestation.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • BADGUY

      Drew – Hey..you gotta pay to keep good people!

      May 22, 2012 at 11:18 am |
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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.