A Christian university in Colorado is suing the Obama administration for requiring private employers’ healthcare plans to cover birth control and sterilization.
The medical services are part of the preventive health benefits that healthcare plans are required to cover without co-pays under President Obama’s healthcare reform law, starting next year.
Colorado Christian University alleges in its lawsuit, filed Wednesday, that the mandate “coerces” the school to “violate its deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties.”
“The Mandate also forces Colorado Christian to fund government-dictated speech that is directly at odds with its own speech and religious teachings,” the university states in its lawsuit. “Having to pay a fine to the taxing authorities for the privilege of practicing one’s religion or controlling one’s own speech is un-American, unprecedented, and flagrantly unconstitutional.”
Federal regulators carved out religious groups from the birth-control mandate, but critics said it’s too narrow. Others, however, don’t think any healthcare plan should be allowed to limit patients’ access to birth control.
“The proposed refusal provision would prioritize an institution’s ‘conscience’ over the essential medical needs of women,” NARAL Pro-Choice America told regulators in a comment letter signed by 29,045 people.
The lawsuit comes as the United Conference of Catholic Bishops took out full page ads in The New York Times and The Washington Post on Wednesday urging Congress and the administration to change the mandate.
“The [Department of Health and Human Services] mandate puts many faith-based organizations and individuals in an untenable situation,” the ad states. “But it also harms society as a whole by undermining a long American tradition of respect for religious liberty and freedom of conscience.”