Catholic School Drops Student Health Care to Protest Contraception Coverage

| Tue May 15, 2012 5:24 PM EDT

Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic school in Ohio, made news today for dropping its student health-care plan in protest of the Obama administration's decision that health insurers must cover contraception. (Via the Huffington Post.)

The school announced online that it will no longer offer student health care starting this fall:

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 (PPACA). Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and 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.

Although the contraception decision has sparked outrage from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, as we've noted before, a number of Catholic institutions already offered that coverage before the new law. And the Obama administration created an exemption for Catholic institutions like Franciscan, requiring the health insurer, not the institution, to cover the contraception coverage. Nor does the mandate require insurers to cover abortion.

So, is there something else going on here? Franciscan also happens to be the school that, in 2008, ousted a university trustee for his endorsement of Barack Obama for president. The trustee, Nicholas P. Cafardi, resigned after the school president expressed "concern" to him about the endorsement. Cafardi, a Catholic legal scholar, had penned a column in the National Catholic Reporter expressing his support for Obama despite his pro-choice stance, noting, "We have lost the abortion battle—permanently."

Franciscan University, then, isn't just any Catholic school. It's one that seems to have a long-term gripe with Obama that existed well before this mandate. And they seem willing to go so far as to take away student healthcare entirely to make that stance clear.

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