Catholic university sues feds over birth control mandate
Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in a town outside of Naples, Fla., is suing the federal government over a recent mandate requiring health insurers to cover contraception as a preventive service.
Since the Obama administration first announced it was considering requiring insurers to provide women contraception without co-pays, Catholic universities had been criticizing the decision. For many women, steep co-pays have deterred them from purchasing family planning services. However, despite an expressed exception for “religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees,” Catholic bishops, Catholic hospitals, Catholic physicians and other Catholic groups have publicly expressed opposition to the exception because “it is too limited.” Universities, including Ave Maria, have said the exemption does not include Catholic universities.
The university joined 18 other Catholic colleges and various Catholic groups last year in petitioning the Obama administration to repeal its decision to classify birth control as a preventive health care service.
Earlier this month, however, the Obama administration walked back on part of its decision in response to an uproar against the mandate by religious, mostly Catholic groups. Both women’s health advocates and Catholic health groups praised the decision. Even though the administration expanded the exemption to the mandate to Catholic universities, Sunshine State News reports that Ave Maria is suing anyway.
According to Sunshine State News: “The lawsuit is the fourth in a series of legal challenges filed by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Arguing that the HHS mandate facilitates drugs that are in violation of religious beliefs, the non-profit legal foundation previously sued on behalf of EWTN, the Catholic TV network; Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic liberal arts school; and Colorado Christian University, an evangelical school in Denver.”
Ave Maria was founded in 2003 by Domino’s Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan. According to The Washington Post, Monaghan used “a large slice of his fortune to build a Catholic university in southwest Florida, exciting conservative Catholics with his dream of an academically first-class institution that is also solidly orthodox.”
The topic of contraception was a controversial topic for the town, because according to the Post Monaghan also had a “plan for a surrounding town in which contraceptives would not be available.”