An Obamacare provision that requires employer-based insurers to cover birth control took effect this week, allowing millions of women to access contraception without a co-pay. Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school, recently joined several religious institutions in a lawsuit fighting the rule.
But as it turns out, Wheaton “inadvertently” covered emergency contraceptive before it invoked the religious freedom argument against Obamacare and managed to drop the provision from its insurance plans in April, well after the uproar began. The Huffington Post reports that Wheaton “tried to scramble to get rid of that coverage in order to qualify” for a one-year exemption for religious institutions:
“In order to be eligible for the safe harbor, the institution has to certify that it has not covered contraceptives after February 10, 2012,” said Emily Hardman, communications director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Wheaton didn’t qualify because “for a short time after February 10, Wheaton’s policies inadvertently covered emergency contraceptives. Wheaton was in the process of fixing that error in February, but it was not fixed before the cutoff date.“
The religious argument against Obamacare — that these institutions are being forced to violate morals — has been dismissed multiple times in courts, where plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any harm from the rule, which includes exemptions for religious nonprofits.
Wheaton isn’t the only religious college to offer contraception. Catholic colleges like Georgetown University, the University of Scranton, DePaul University, and Christian University have insurance plans that cover birth control and 28 states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception.