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Federal Judge Halts Obamacare Mandate on Colleges' Contraceptive Coverage

Christian colleges in Michigan and Iowa are temporarily exempt from an Affordable Act mandate that employee insurance plans cover contraceptives, including “the morning after pill” and other methods college officials found morally objectionable.

Christian colleges in Michigan and Iowa argued their religious freedoms were violated by an Affordable Health Care Act mandating employees health plan cover contraceptives, including “the morning after pill.” (Photo: Planned Parenthood vis Tumblr)
Christian colleges in Michigan and Iowa argued their religious freedoms were violated by an Affordable Health Care Act mandating employees health plan cover contraceptives, including “the morning after pill.” (Photo: Planned Parenthood vis Tumblr)

A federal judge on Wednesday approved a temporary injunction that exempts two Christian colleges, one in Michigan and the other in Iowa, from an Affordable Care Act mandate requiring their employees’ health insurance plans pay for certain contraceptives.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett’s ruling in an Iowa court is being hailed as a victory for religious freedom by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law group that represented Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI, and Dordt College in Sioux Center, IA, The Associated Press/Detroit Free Press reports.

Christian colleges should “remain free to operate according to their defining beliefs,” Gregory S. Baylor, one of the lawyers for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement. The colleges had argued the mandate violated their religious freedoms.

The colleges said their employee health plans cover most contraceptives, but they took issue at being required to cover “the morning after pill,” which they consider a form of abortion and therefore a violation of their defining principles, the Des Moines Register said.

In granting the temporary injunction, Bennett noted the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a similar case involving the Hobby Lobby craft store chain. Hobby Lobby’s conservative Christian owners object to IUDs and morning-after pills because they interfere with the creation of life once an egg is fertilized, NPR reported.

Bennett said the greatest harm to the defendant U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in granting the injunction is that the agency would possibly have to wait a few months to enforce the mandate if the Supreme Court justices give Hobby Lobby an unfavorable ruling. 

Bennett also cited a June 1 deadline for the colleges to comply with the mandate.

A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman in Iowa said employers shouldn’t have the right to deny coverage – something the Obama administration allowed under a compromise designed to appease critics who objected to the mandate on religious grounds.

“Every woman’s health needs are as unique as she is,” Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokeswoman Angie Remington wrote in an email to the Des Moines Register. “A woman takes birth control for any number of reasons other than family planning, including to control certain medical conditions or prevent pregnancy due to a serious health risk. 

"When employers refuse to cover birth control as a part of their employees' benefits, this becomes a health-care issue and an economic issue for a woman and her family, especially if she is struggling to make ends meet," Remington said.

What do you think?

  • Colleges and religious institutions are exempt from the Affordable Health Care mandate requiring employee health plans include coverage of certain contraceptives. Should anyone else be exempt?
Charlie Bradfield May 22, 2014 at 01:01 AM
Ya know if your insurance doesn't cover contraception and you can't afford a $15. box of 36 condumns, then you can always not have sex. It is an option. Strange as that may sound.
joe smoe May 22, 2014 at 02:56 AM
Planned Parenthood is nothing more than an abortion mill. Much worse than a puppy mill. Planned Parenthood's majority of services come from providing abortions. They are zealots of the ideal of murdering an unborn child. Google Late Term Abortion. Google Partial Birth Abortion. lf you have the guts. Though they may say they themselves do not provide such services, they can steer the victim in the direction of such a facility. obama, in 2013, passed the Botched Abortion Law, that shields abortionists from prosecution when the "glob-of-tissue" come out breathing and it has to be placed in a darkened room for the many minutes, hours or days it takes for it to draw it's last breath. Real nice move liar barrack. Class act. Real humane. Google Botched Abortion Law. lf you have the guts.
Jon Trouten May 22, 2014 at 07:37 PM
Actually, abortions consist of 3% of the services that they provide: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/planned-parenthood-glance-5552.htm
Kris Hunter-Simon May 22, 2014 at 10:36 PM
I see no difference in the morning- after pill and the usual BCPs. It's use would reduce the number of abortions, since women who "made a mistake" the night before might not become pregnant and seek an abortion later.
Maria Houser Conzemius May 27, 2014 at 09:56 AM
"Keep 'em barefoot and pregnant" is the Christian/Republican mantra. The Taliban and al Qaeda would approve.

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