Two more evangelical schools — Biola University in California and Grace College in Indiana — just joined the growing number of conservative religious institutions filing lawsuits against the Obama administration over its contraception mandate. The birth control provision, which went into effect at the beginning of this month, provides contraceptive coverage without a co-pay to millions of women who need reproductive health care services. Although Obamacare includes a religious exemption that allows Catholic and evangelical institutions to opt out of paying for birth control if they object to it, right-wing groups claim the mandate still violates their religious liberty.
In preparation to sue over Obamacare, evangelical colleges are more closely examining their existing student health plans — only to discover that they actually already cover the contraceptive services they object to. In their lawsuit, Biola University officials admitted that they were covering birth control and emergency contraception right up until the point that the Obamacare mandate became politicized and they decided it must violate their liberty:
Like Wheaton College, Biola previously covered Plan B and ella in its insurance plans. Biola’s insurance plan covered FDA-approved contraceptives before April 1, the lawsuit states. “The prior inclusion of abortion-inducing drugs like ella and Plan B was neither knowing nor intentional.”
Working with several insurance companies for faculty and student plans, Biola did not look into the details of its coverage until the Obama administration’s mandate became an issue for the college, said Biola University President Barry H. Corey.
“Whether or not people were taking advantage of [ella or Plan B], that’s something we weren’t and couldn’t track,” Corey said. “We did realize at that point that our insurance companies should exclude those.”
Apparently emergency contraception — which Biola misleadingly refers to as “abortion-inducing,” in the ongoing misinformation campaign about the female reproductive system — was not a big enough threat to the university’s religious liberty before Obamacare to compel the administration to ensure that its plan didn’t cover it.
Wheaton and Biola aren’t the only institutions to suddenly realize that they are fighting against a health service they already provide. Some Catholic colleges and hospitals, such as Georgetown University, currently have insurance plans that cover birth control, and 28 states already require organizations to include contraception as part of their prescription insurance plans. The religious case against Obamacare is much more about a manufactured right-wing controversy than it is about liberty.