On the heels of the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision, Wheaton College filed a lawsuit today with The Catholic University of America in the D.C. District Court opposing the Health and Human Services (HHS) “Preventative Services” mandate, which "forces both institutions to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay severe fines," according to an announcement on the college's website.
With the Affordable Care Act, effective beginning in August, most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women, including recommended contraception without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible, according to a White House press release.
The act exempts churches, other houses of worship and similar organizations from covering contraception on the basis of their religious objections, and establishes a one-year transition period for religious organizations while the policy is being implemented, according to the White House release.
Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Ryken said on a media call Wednesday morning that throughout the year, the college has communicated with the HHS and the White House about the possibility of an accommodation for Wheaton College, but no accommodation has yet been made.
"The accommodation that has been talked about is one that would still indirectly involve Wheaton College through the insurer," Ryken said.
"Any accommodation that still involves us in connection with an insurer that provides abortion services still, though indirectly, nevertheless implicates us morally in that action, so that's why we're opposed to that kind of accommodation."
He said institutions like Wheaton College should not be accommodated, but exempt in the same way churches are.
With freshmen arriving on campus in two weeks, "We need to understand how we're going to provide insurance coverage already this academic year," Ryken said.
He said he hopes the suit will bring resolution, but that the college could accept punitive fines of about $1.4 million for not adhering to the regulations of the act. The $1.4 million in fines would be related to coverage for only the college's faculty and staff.
"We will do everything possible to provide coverage for faculty, staff and students... But I also told them we could be facing these punitive fines," Ryken said.
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