Jul 19, 2012 07:03 AM EDT
Catholics' New Ally: Evangelical College Joins the Suit against Birth-control Mandate
Catholics and Evangelicals in the country rarely look eye to eye on any issue. But, the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) birth control mandate has brought them together.
Wheaton College, an evangelical institution, filed a lawsuit Wednesday alongside The Catholic University of America against preventive services mandate outlined in the Affordable Care Act (2010).
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So far, the institutions filing the suit were mostly Catholic until the Wheaton College became the first evangelical college to join them.
Dr. Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, explained that the main reason for the suit is that the institution believes in Pro-life and hence, opposes the use of abortion-inducing drugs.
The Catholic institutions are objecting to all of the contraceptive coverage requirements, whereas, Wheaton is suing over a provision in the HHS that mandates coverage of abortion-inducing drugs.
"This insurance mandate is against our conscience and against our Christian convictions. We have no recourse now but to file suit," Ryken said.
The institutions argued that they are in accordance in their opinion that the law "forces both institutions to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay severe fines."
John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America, said that the addition of Wheaton College to the now 24 lawsuits demonstrates that the issue is about religious freedom, not contraception.
According to the birth-control mandate announced in January by HHS, almost all the employers who provide health insurance must cover contraception, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs. Though there is a religious exemption, most catholic institutions such as the Catholic University do not qualify for the exemption.
When asked about the delay ion filing the suit, Ryken said that the Wheaton waited until now to file suit because it was waiting to see if the Supreme Court would resolve the issue by striking down the Affordable Care Act, which gave HHS the authority to implement the mandate. The Supreme Court ruled last month that almost all of the ACA is constitutional.
Additionally, Wheaton did not qualify for the law's "safe harbor" provision that would keep the mandate from going into effect for another year. The College needed to sue now, Ryken pointed out, because it will be required to abide by the mandate in January.
Both Ryker and Garvey clarified that the suit isn't a partisan in nature and the upcoming election had nothing to do with the timing of the lawsuit, whatsoever.