Rather than compromise its Catholic values by complying with the federal contraception mandate, Franciscan University has decided to drop its student health insurance.
According to the school’s website, Franciscan University of Steubenville chose to cut student health insurance altogether instead of participating “in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.” The small Catholic university in Ohio currently excludes contraception, sterilization and abortifacients from its student and employee health insurance plans. If enacted into law, however, the federal contraception mandate would change that. The mandate, originally introduced in an Aug. 2011 interim rule, requires health insurance plans to cover contraception – including drugs that cause abortion – and sterilization free of charge. As part of the “accommodation” for organizations morally opposed to these services, Franciscan University would have until August 2013 to comply. But with a new coverage year beginning in August, the university decided to drop student health insurance rather than risk violating its “passionately Catholic” identity. Other colleges and private businesses have brought law suits against the Obama administration, but Franciscan is the first to drop student health insurance completely. While the student health center will still serve students for just $5 per visit, students will be responsible to decide how “to provide for accidents or illnesses requiring visits to physicians, health clinics, or the hospital emergency room” during their time as a student. Franciscan’s announcement comes less than one week after Legatus, a national organization of leading Catholic business CEOs and professional leaders, announced its lawsuit against the HHS mandate on the grounds of religious freedom, according to a Catholic News Agency report. Ave Maria University, EWTN, Catholic Social Services, St. Pius X Catholic School of Nebraska and seven states, are among those who have filed lawsuits against the Obama administration over the contraception mandate.