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. Health Care Administrator & Long Term Care MPA?

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    June 5, 2012 at 4:03 am |
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    June 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  3. Defensor

    These students are just the latest people to lose their health-care plan after Obamacare went into effect, others will follow. So much for "if you like your current health-care plan you can keep it".

    If Obama would stop being so stubborn, and let these religious groups provide insurance in accordance with their beliefs, none of this would've happened, but no he's gotta be dictating to everyone that we must have insurance and it must include certain things. Mind your own business Obama!

    June 3, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  4. Kenjitheman

    Abstinence is the greatest form of birth control. Keep your legs closed and your d!<k$ in your pants and all these so called issues will just simply go away. No abortions, no child support, no money for lawyers for child custody hearings, no HIV aids, or any other std's would spread. Any and all money for these things could go and be used for something else.

    May 30, 2012 at 8:09 am |

    This article is very good indeed, with the hope this article will help many people.


    May 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  6. Unplugged

    I agree. Tax the churches!!

    May 25, 2012 at 2:12 am |
  7. Elray


    May 25, 2012 at 1:30 am |
  8. n8362

    They are denying hundreds of students health insurance out of a respect for a sacredness of human life.

    That is religion for you.

    May 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I guess only zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are 'sacred'. The lives of college students are expendable. Unimportant. Inconsequential. Because of COURSE a few cells are FAR more important than the life of a girl who's in college! After all, what does it matter if she drops out of school because she is pregnant? Who cares? It's SO much more important that she give birth to a kid than that she's actually equipped to support it and educate it.


      Nah. Unless you're a fundiiot.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Courtney

      These kids should be able to get health insurance from their parents' plans if they are under 26. In 2014 they should be able to go out ot the exchanges to get insurance.

      Sounds like an excuse to me to cut expenses. Sad....

      June 4, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  9. Julie

    Why does a student need a health insurance plan? Did they see the bill for tuition and fees. I thought these things were included. You guys should be providing these things for free.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  10. boocat

    it's a catholic school...who gives a ****...

    May 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  11. birch please

    Thou shall not kill............ So all christians should not allow their taxes to go to the military

    May 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  12. Chuck

    Might be hard to find employees.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  13. JAY

    The religion clauses of the First Amendment require that government treat religion as special. It is not legally possible to treat religion the same as non-religion. There should be no more talk of that. It is not an option.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Keldorama

      It's not an issue of religion; it's an employee relations issue.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  14. Jim H

    What everyone who is trying to deny people medical coverage because of their "religious beliefs" shows the abject failure of their philosophy. People have a choice and if they so choose to use birth control or have an abortion it stems from the fact that the churches message is not sinking in. You should not force people by denying them coverage for something they choose.

    May 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Thlix

      er.. an exact quote, from your post... "You should not force people by denying them coverage for something they choose."

      and yet you seem perfectly willing to force religious groups to do what you want them to, despite their personal choice..

      so.. hmmm does personal choice only count when its something you agree with?

      May 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • J.W

      Nobody is forcing anyone to take birth control.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  15. Kindness

    A few thoughts 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

    You're 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 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  16. James

    I am getting really tired of this "Christians should get special rights" garbage. You already get more special rights than you deserve. You don't have to pay taxes on your churches. In some States, you GET taxpayer money to teach your religion to children. And you already have special exceptions to the laws with regards to dispensing health care. Maybe it's time to END all of your special rights, and make the law apply equally to the churches, and treat religious people like everyone else.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • abcdxyz

      I could not agree more with this statement! The U.S., state, and local governments pander to religion, and I would like it to stop. I want to live in a secular society, not a theocracy. This means that no religion or church should be able to tell the government which laws it will condescend to comply with. If the Catholic church is an employer, it should follow all laws applicable to employers. I left the Catholic church over this issue–not contraception (the church has been and continues to be wrong about contraception, but individuals follow their consciences), but the rule of law and the separation of church and state.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  17. heyheyhey

    I see their admission rates plumet. lol Sorry females who take birth control for medical issues your just not important to them. We are more interested in our money the christian way. One reason why I no longer belong to the church.

    May 23, 2012 at 6:27 am |
    • Church of Suicidal

      I'm assuming they provided health care to their employees, not their students. So, this might affect their ability to hire, but I doubt it will affect admissions much.

      May 23, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • momoya


      Did you read the article?

      May 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  18. ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

    The fact is the Roman Catholic Church today would APPROVE of birth control, had it not been for the murder of Pope JohnPaul I. The Commission assembled by Paul VI, recommended in it's Majority report, that birth control be left to individual conscience.

    May 23, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  19. A Candid Look

    Why are you surprised... we already know that over 30% of American businesses are planning to do the same thing... their reason is that it is cheaper for them.... but since this is a relitous college you will complain about the money they are saving ... while you give business a pass????

    May 22, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  20. squeeks

    There their they're, don't blow a gasket because of misspelled words.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Bill

      Plan B does not stop implantation I wish people would stop spreading this lie

      May 22, 2012 at 10:59 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.