In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Evangelical College Ends Health Coverage To Avoid Even Declaring Objection to Birth Control

AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

"We are attempting to protect the larger lawsuit the college has against the Department of Health and Human Services," Paul Chelsen, Wheaton's vice president of students affairs, said in a live-streamed information session, a recording of which was obtained by the Tribune. "The reason protecting that case is so important is because basically what has happened is the government is telling us we have to offer something that we find morally objectionable."

Wheaton is just one of a number of religious schools and businesses suing the government over a requirement in the Affordable Care Act that insurance plans cover birth control, including the types of emergency contraceptives some believe amount to causing abortions. The craft store Hobby Lobby prevailed in its Supreme Court case seeking an exemption to the mandate last year, and days later the justices issued an emergency injunction in the Wheaton case.

Earlier this month, the Department of Heath and Human Services codified its policy that allows an organization wishing to opt out of contraceptive coverage to notify the agency of its religious objections, at which point, prompting the HHS to notify insurers to offer the coverage separate from the organization's plan. However, Wheaton and other institutions say even filling out the exemption form stating their religious objections is a burden on their beliefs, as the process still triggers contraceptive coverage.

A few weeks ago, the Seventh U.S. Court Circuit of Appeals rejected Wheaton's logic, and appeals courts across the country have ruled against organizations making similar arguments.

"Wheaton College does not want to be involved in the provision of emergency contraceptives; pursuant to its wishes, it no longer is involved," Justice Richard Posner said in the decision that refused Wheaton a preliminary injunction.

Other religious non-profits making Wheaton's argument have appealed their case to the Supreme Court.

About The Author


Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.