Seminary joins contraceptive mandate fight

Religious Liberty
by Leigh Jones
Posted 3/12/13, 02:54 pm

Westminster Theological Seminary on Friday joined a lawsuit filed by two other Christian colleges against the government’s health insurance contraceptive mandate.

East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University filed the challenge in October. It is one of 49 cases pending in federal court against the mandate.

“This latest development is more evidence that this unconstitutional mandate violates the core beliefs of religious groups across the theological spectrum,” said Diana Verm, a lawyer with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Houston lawyer Ken Wynne represents Westminster.

Although Catholic institutions protested the mandate first, evangelical protestant organizations joined the fight in a show of unity.

Under the mandate, part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform package, companies with more than 50 employees must offer healthcare coverage that includes contraceptive and abortifacient drugs. Churches are exempt. And the Obama administration said other religious organizations could get around the requirement by having insurance companies cover the cost of the drugs, at no cost to the employer. But religious liberty advocates call the solution a shell game because insurance companies will raise premiums to cover the cost, forcing companies and employees to pay for the drugs anyway.

Most of the suits filed by colleges are in limbo until the mandate goes into effect for them later this year. After Christian colleges protested, the Obama administration delayed enforcing the mandate for a year. But several companies owned by Christians have won injunctions against the mandate. The government likely will appeal.

The contraceptive mandate challenges could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next year.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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