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. Religion is sofa king stupid

    Just fvcking tax religions already...

    May 16, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  2. intel

    Well...it is Ohio.....

    May 16, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  3. Gezellig

    Why can't the school provide the coverage for contraception and still teach that contraception is wrong? As I recall, the Bible says nothing about insurance being a sin. Does the church teach it is a sin to process a condom, or to use one? Becides, my sister, who is catholic, was alergic to her husband's sperm. She had to use a condom to reduce her alergic response to his sperm, so that during her fertile periods she was more likely to become pregnant. Did this violate Church teachings, or promote it? By the way, does the school deny medical coverage for pregnacy if it turns out the pregnacy is out of wedlock? Beside, I wonder if the courts will allow them to get away with this. The courts have generally taken a dim view of those who respond to anti-descrimination laws by removing rights from everyone. In other words, if you outlaw separate drinking fountains for blacks and whites, you can't respond to that by removing all the drinking fountains.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  4. Imjesayin

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

    So name an insurance company that doesnt! Completely bogus reasoning.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  5. DavidMM

    "“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."

    It doesn't force anyone to take birth control. It is not forcing any Catholic to violate their beliefs. But if we take birth control out of the health bill, then we are forcing a belief on all people. Why can't they see that?

    This country was founded on religious freedom, and lately we see so many religious zealots trying to use religion to take away freedoms. This is not the United Catholic States of America. We are believers and non-believers, we are Christians and non-Christians, and even among Christians there are such wide differences. Living in a democratic republic such as America is messy.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  6. fred

    Obama said everyone can keep their current coverage under Obama care. No, sorry you can't because Obama changed the plans you once had. You can keep you plan it is just not the one you wanted or previoously had. Liar Liar

    May 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • goobama

      you sire are an idiot and clearly have not taken the time to read and understand the new health care bill as far as insurance is concerned. Live in your tiny little bible and cover your eyes to real issues. IF you pulled your head our of your judgmental ass and then you would understand that women's issues and men's issues for that matter are up to that individual. If you do believe in the bible then you have to choice not to participate in any for of healthcare. But feel good about judging people.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • fred

      Are you a democrat plant? If so you missed the entire point. It is true that Obama said you can keep your heath plan no one is going to take it away. It is true Obama then changed all health plans by mandating coverages. It is true my health plan is no longer the one I once had.
      How you find my objective view of factual changes in health plans has anything to do with the bible is beyond me. Your words give away your judgmental heart.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  7. mema

    Im Christian and what a pathetic excuse to take away their health coverage. Before Obamas health care plan most insurance covered some of these anyway. But to take health benefits for those reasons is insane!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  8. brainwashed

    "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."

    its easy to stand up for your beliefs when they don't affect your benefits, get them obama!! them and those black preachers that denounced your gay marriage stance, make religious organization pay taxes!!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  9. Pat

    Just more proof that ignorance is the mother of all religion.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  10. Bootyfunk

    "The Roman Catholic Church opposes the use of contraception."

    gotta breed new cult members.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    religion has no place at a school of higher learning. oil + water.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  12. Al

    They don't pay property taxes and that short changes public schools in their town. Of course they will complain about the poor state of public schools, then offer up their public sector solution.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  13. Mike

    Interesting that Franciscan University of Steubenville ONLY dropped coverage for STUDENTS. If the college had dropped coverage for EMPLOYEES, the EMPLOYEES would have sided with the new regulations. Shame on you Franciscan University of Steubenville for your weasel actions!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  14. Schadenfreudean Psychologist

    Ah, the "consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life," which the Crusades, the various Inquisitions, genocidal forced conversions during the conquest of the Americas, complicity in the NAZI-engineered Holocaust [against Jews, Gypsies, trade unionists, university professors, disabled persons, outspoken Protestants, and others], complicity in Vietnamese Catholic genocide against Buddhists, etc., etc., etc., ... all render consistently inconsistent!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • DJL

      Don't forget burning witches...

      May 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Rodeo_Joe

      And that's just the TIP of the iceberg.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  15. Omar Sheik Talibani

    I congratulate the American Taliban for standing up for the only true values and letting people go without health insurance. Women should not be allowed to make thier own decisions. I spit on the rest of America. PPPT!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  16. Donna

    If anyone thinks this is anything other than an opportunity to cut benefits to employees, think again.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  17. RobinMO

    Their excuse for dropping the plan is completely bogus. They are not required to pay an extra penny for the coverage of the controversial services. They just don't want to provide this benefit anymore. Every dollar spent on birth control saves $3.75 in downstream medical expenses. Covering contraceptive services saves insurance companies $$, which is why it should be standard in all policies and lead to lower premiums. Women should not be deprrived of vital medical services because of the religious beliefs of their employers, particularly when the beliefs have absolutely no basis in the Bible.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well said, Robin.

      you don't want to exercise the birth control option - don't. no one is forcing you, as opposed to the church trying to force their religious view. can't churches leave it up to their faithful followers not to use birth control? the answer is no, they can't. 97% of women in this control has used some kind of birth control.

      perhaps crusty old men that have never known the touch of a woman should not be deciding women's issues.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      typo: in this country, not in this control. hehe.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  18. Regis990

    If they wanna play poilitics, let them pay their entry fee (taxes) like the rest of us.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  19. Regis990

    If they wanna play poilitics, let

    May 16, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  20. Drew

    Go to love Christians. They'll fight n fight for a baby to b born but once it is they want nothing to do with it. They'll take a tax exempt status (whis is ridiculous) but then don't want to abide by the law. Religious extremist live in this country too apparently.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
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.