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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. Uncouth Swain

    Collages are going to start forcing us to sit next to g@ys in the classroom too. I don't think I'll be going back to there because they are an abomination to the LORD.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      And how do you know for sure you're not sitting next to someone who is gay in a restaurant or anywhere else? Best stay out of the public area's in your town if you wish to not be near a gay person. They have as many rights as you do. Segregating anyone unless they are criminal is immoral.

      May 17, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • Kalessin

      Gotta love the crazy name stealers in the morning 🙂

      May 17, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • Roger

      Better sitting beside anything than a religious, condemning, prejudist jesus fr##k like you! Seriously, aren't you people supposed to be full of love and acceptance? Oh yeah, you people only forgive and accept child molesters...

      May 17, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Dystopia

      Don't be a hater Roger.

      May 17, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  2. Christopher

    Now this is what I call true equality.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:19 am |
  3. The TRUTH

    The mormon LDS church has been in league with the catholic corporate VATICAN in attempts to target gay celebrities to bring negative attention to them and have been giving them different diseases. It began with FREDDIE MERCURY and then they stayed a little quite and are responsible for what happened to KURT COBAIN. After that they made some quiet background noise and then feverishly attacked MICHAEL JACKSON by smuggling skin-bleaching agents into his food and his doctor was a mormon so figure it out people open your eyes! After this they went after RICKEY MARTIN but we not successful and now JOHN TRAVOLTA is being used as a scape goat they will probably harm him! JOHN TRAVOLTA is a gay man and the LDS MORMON CHURCH AND VATICAN ARE TARGETING HIM!!

    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/05/16/ritz-carlton-masseur-says-and-john-travolta-wound-up-having-sex-in-17/?intcmp=features

    People need to spread the news and warn that the GAY community is NOT SAFE from the LDS and VATICAN and they need to be EXPOSDE TO THE PUBLIC!!!

    May 17, 2012 at 6:11 am |
  4. Schadenfreudean Psychologist

    And what of the students who are losing their health insurance? Do their lives NOT matter?

    May 17, 2012 at 5:34 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      losing health insurance means bad health which can lead to... well, i'm sure you get it.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:42 am |
  5. Mkay

    Who needs health insurance? Prayer is all you need.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      yes, it sure is:

      http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/06/us/in-child-deaths-a-test-for-christian-science.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

      May 17, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • Roger

      That's funny! But you can't pray s t u p i d i t y away...

      May 17, 2012 at 6:42 am |
  6. will

    Nice to see the catholic church feels it's above US law...Perhaps they should be given a choice. Obey the law, or pay taxes like ever other business.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:27 am |
  7. 0rangeW3dge

    All Hail The Pope, down with all government, up with The Vatican....."Take It Back, Take It Back, Back to 1492"

    May 17, 2012 at 4:22 am |
  8. Colin

    Religious people are not necessarily stupid, but religious views almost invariably are. The latter involves believing in supernatural beings and one's own immortality in one form or another, based on nothing more than old books and one's fear of their own death. That, quite simply, is stupid.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      Fear, Guilt + Ignorance - the pillars of christianity.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      As opposed to the view that everything is just an accident because God doesn't exist? Atheism is just as stupid as religion for without concrete concrete facts they are still choosing to believe what they want to. Agnosticism is the logical default view.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Joxer: There are concrete facts and evidence for science. Where are your concrete facts and evidence for your god?
      “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Stephen Roberts

      May 17, 2012 at 6:03 am |
  9. Bootyfunk

    education and religion just don't mix.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:50 am |
  10. Navin Johnson

    I thought part of Christ's teaching was to help those in need. I guess all those woman (and others) needing health insurance aren't important. Guess they can pick and choose, like on a salad bar, what part of Christ's teachings to follow and which parts not to follow.

    May 17, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      jesus approved of slavery:

      Luke 12:37-38
      37 "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
      38 "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.”

      May 17, 2012 at 3:51 am |
  11. gjp

    @surviving the World and LinCA... What 'evidence' can you cite that proves that a higher being didn't create the universe? Your beliefs on how the universe was created are based on theories that really are just the best guess of other humans. How does that make you more intellectual than religious scholars?

    May 17, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • n8263

      gjp, so you prefer the myths and best guests of ignorant iron age societies who had about a billionth of the knowledge and understanding of modern humans? That makes sense. Okay, actually that does not make any sense at all.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • gjp

      n8263- Again another ignorant atheist comment. Religious studies didn't die out centuries ago. It is on going just as the personal experiences that individuals continue to have through their belief in God. What proof do you have that our belief in God is based on a myth? Your comments just proves my point that most atheists can not adequately argue their beliefs.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • tallulah13

      There is no evidence that says that a higher being didn't create the universe. There is no evidence that says a pink unicorn named Wendy didn't create the universe. However, there is not a single shred of evidence to support the existence of Wendy or ANY of the thousands of gods worshiped by humans. After a few thousand years, it is simply practical to stop believing in fairy tales.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. you claim there's a god - prove it.

      otherwise we could follow your "logic" - prove my left nut isn't god. since you can't, my left nut must be god.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • It's like this

      The matter boils down to a complete and utter lack of any evidence supporting the existence of any God or supernatural entity. Every last shred of evidence ever found in the universe conforms to natural laws and physical properties. All this mass of evidence we call the universe is perfectly consistent with a natural system, and perfectly inconsistent with a supernatural being influencing any of it. No force or matter that cannot be explained within the context of a natural system has ever been found, no miracles or inconsistencies, or things that are where they cannot be. Everything explains fine under natural laws.

      Absolutely no god is evidenced in any way at all. All evidence says natural system, absolutely none even hints as a god.

      It all boils down to a total and complete lack of evidence. Indeed, why do you believe in a god, and why do you think that your god is correct and all others are wrong? You cannot supply any evidence at all. You believe only, and I mean only, because enough people who also had no evidence told you it was true. Then you let your imagination interpret coincidence and random events as God.

      No evidence. There is no evidence for what you say. Your scripture will not hold as evidence due to contradictions and clearly wrong information, as well as the existence of many other mutually exclusive scriptures of equal validity. You cannot prove that your book is true because – you guessed it – you have NO EVIDENCE that it is.

      Your use of ad hominem discredits you further, by the way.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:38 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      @it's like this

      well said.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      "What proof do you have that our belief in God is based on a myth?"

      look up the origins of christianity and you'll find the answers to this question. you're in front of a computer - do some research before you post.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • gjp

      Once again...lots of lip but no proof. None of you atheist have offered one shred of proof there isn't a God. The long winded story about the Universe following natural laws and blah blah blah...that also leads to the idea of an intelligent designer. Once again...Atheists talking crap because they can do very little else.

      May 17, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @gjp: Wow, the only true ignorant one here is you. You obviously have no concept as you what a theory is and you have had it explained to you that the burden of proof lies on the one making the claim. Science provides questions that may never be answered, religion provides answers that may never be questioned. Your book was written 2000 years ago and has not been updated. Science has been able to prove with evidence more that that book ever will give. The fact that you allow your belief to think for you is laziness. Where is your evidence for god? No-one has ever seen this god or found of evidence of said god to back the claim for one. The only evidence you have is that book and that does not prove a god. Try thinking for yourself and opening your mind before coming here and calling us out. We have done our research, you might want to attempt doing some yourself.
      "“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” Stephen Roberts (not our quote but most of us agree with it)
      Imaginary friends are for children...time to grow up!

      May 17, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • gjp

      TruthPrevails :-)–again. typical ignorant atheist answer when asked to prove their belief. What do you do...cut and paste from previous posts? Youl can offer no proof for your beliefs yet you want to tear down mine? You believe in theories which are unproven beliefs and try and back them up with the statement "Science provides questions that may never be answered..." LOL talk about a lazy answer. Where did you cut and paste that from? I believe that evidence of God is all around us. For you to think that religious people believe in God only because of the Bible clearly shows you to be the one who is ignorant.

      May 17, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Alex

      In a thousand years, people will workship Bella, Edward and Jacob. Two Vampires and a werewolve......

      May 17, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @gjp: The only ignorant one here is YOU!!! My belief is that there is no evidence for your god, your belief is that your god exists. It is not up to me to prove your god exists..that is up to you.
      Evolution proof: lots of proof here...http://evolution.berkeley.edu/
      Big Bang: try this...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Bang_Theory

      I'll take the studies done by scientists that all come to the same basic conclusion over your god any day. If in your eyes that makes one ignorant, sucks to be you. We are not the ones using the god of the gaps argument (I don't know, therefore it must be...) for every unknown answer.
      How many people do you know personally who have returned from the dead to state there is a heaven or hell? The jesus story does not count. Jesus was not written about until 30-40 years after he apparently died.
      If you want your belief respected, then respect the belief of everyone else. You have no evidence outside of the buybull for your god.
      What we believe is based on actual evidence, what you believe is based on faith (belief without evidence).
      The burden of proof does lie on you just as it would lie on me if I said Thor was real or pink unicorns were real.
      When your belief stops oppressing the basic rights of others, stays out of schools and the government I will have reason to tolerate it...until then I will speak out against it. Everyone deserves the same rights in this world and we are moving forward, not back. It is time you grew up and made that move.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • momoya

      Great reply, Truth Prevails.. I feel like when I'm debating a god-believer, I always have to spend 90% of my time explaining how logic and critical reasoning works.. These knuckleheads want to "argue" for their position, but they have absolutely no idea how proper arguing is done..

      May 17, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  12. Stimson

    Interesting. Good luck trying to attract or keep employees. I can't imagine having to personally buy insurance for an individual, let alone a family on what the rank & file employees make there. At least with employer group plans the provider won't deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and the group rate premiums are usually a lot cheaper than if someone tried to buy it on their own.

    As for the students, hopefully they're still covered under mom &/or dad's insurance so it won't be an issue. Otherwise, they may just see their enrollment drop too.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:51 am |
  13. The Franciscan University of Stupidville

    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 but what they don't understand is, we really don't give a fvck about women.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:41 am |
    • fred

      they are only good for one thing

      May 17, 2012 at 6:26 am |
  14. rreider2

    BRILLIANT! I'm sure this move will attract the finest educational talent the nation has to offer. I mean who with a master's degree would want health coverage? What parent wouldn't want to pay private school tuition while neglecting their child's health? It's quite a bold marketing ploy.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  15. fusa

    Religion had its chance to run the world. It was called the Dark Ages. Religious education is an oxymoron.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  16. Bob

    Wait the coverage is ~50 bucks a month? What are they doing? Praying away pink eye?

    May 17, 2012 at 2:30 am |
  17. Bob

    This will probably affect their enrollment. Oh well, survival of the fittest.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:29 am |
  18. n8263

    And people keep asking what is wrong with religion. What harm is there in believing "just in case." THIS! When you take your make believe religion seriously it causes real problems..

    May 17, 2012 at 1:25 am |
  19. Enjoy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKAW96N-Vms&feature=fvwrel

    May 17, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  20. Mayflower

    I find it incredibly offensive and narrow-minded that everyone here assumes that someone who is religious in incapable of intellectual thought. Surely if these people were only as educated as you, had read what you have read and knew what you know, they would think exactly like you! I reject the idea that faith and intelligence are mutually exclusive.

    May 17, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Yeah right

      All you have done is run around shouting "bigot," and you are now trying to play the intellectual?

      Do you prefer Dostoyevsky or D. H. Lawrence? Which of Nietzsche's books did you like best? What was your opinion of Noam Chomskey's "Manufacturing Consent"?

      Haven't read those? Really? Not surprised.

      May 17, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Surviving the World

      Most atheists do not believe that being religious and being intelligent are mutually exclusive, however the more intelligent a believer is, the greater the cognitive dissonance is. For you specifically, do you really believe, with all the evidence to the contrary, that god created the universe in the way described in genesis? what about noah and his ark? If you disagree with it, then how can you still call yourself a believe when what you really believe is your own, modern, updated version of god that is not described in the bible.

      May 17, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • LinCA

      @Mayflower

      You said, "I find it incredibly offensive and narrow-minded that everyone here assumes that someone who is religious in incapable of intellectual thought."
      Don't get offended. Instead, intellectually evaluate the basis for religious beliefs. Any honest scrutiny of the core beliefs of any religion will inevitably lead to doubt. Doubt will lead to disbelief.

      You said, "Surely if these people were only as educated as you, had read what you have read and knew what you know, they would think exactly like you!"
      Of course not. It all depends on how believers elect to apply their intellect.

      You said, "I reject the idea that faith and intelligence are mutually exclusive."
      The only way they are not mutually exclusive, is if the believers doesn't apply his intellect to his beliefs.

      May 17, 2012 at 2:05 am |
    • tallulah13

      I know many intelligent people who are religious, however I find they are generally religious for emotional reasons, not intellectual. I honestly don't care what people believe, as long as they don't try to force those beliefs on anyone else.

      A college dropping health care because they object to providing birth control is simply an act of what my father would have called "cutting off their nose to spite their face." People will suffer from this action. It just goes to show that the church is more interested in dogma than in people.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      "I reject the idea that faith and intelligence are mutually exclusive."
      they aren't. there are many intelligent religious people out there. however, the point is that even these intelligent people can be warped by religion into turning off their brains, or at least the logic and reasoning parts.

      there is no evidence of god. there is tons of evidence that the bible is wrong throughout, about many many things. the bible supports slavery, the killing of g.ays, non-virgin brides, disobedient children and anyone that works on the weekend. the bible is disgusting.

      we understand why dumb people follow chrisitanity - but it's harder to understand how an intelligent person does not follow logic to it's conclusion - there is no god.

      May 17, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Colin

      Religious people are not necessarily stupid, but religious views almost invariably are. The latter involves believing in supernatural beings and one's own immortality in one form or another, based on nothing more than old books and one's fear of their own death. That, quite simply, is stupid.

      May 17, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • fred

      no

      their stupid

      May 17, 2012 at 6:26 am |
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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.