Students from the University of Dallas, Franciscan University of Steubenville, De Sales University and Catholic University of America are fighting back.
Students at Catholic universities across the nation are banding together with students at Belmont Abbey College (BAC) in a stand for religious liberty and conscience rights, after the college was warned by the Obama administration last month that its refusal to cover contraception amounted to gender discrimination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ignited the First Amendment firestorm earlier this month when it ruled Belmont Abbey College was wrong not to include coverage for contraception in its employee health insurance plan, despite the Catholic Church's prohibition on contraception as intrinsically evil. In addition to the Church's teachings against contraception as such, it is known that hormonal contraceptives often function as abortifacients.
According to BAC president William Thierfelder, while the local EEOC initially threw out the complaint, the decision was reversed after the affair went to officials in Washington.
Students from the University of Dallas, Franciscan University of Steubenville, De Sales University and Catholic University of America are fighting back, saying the EEOC decision is a troubling indication of the Obama administration's ideas on "reasonable" conscience protection.
"People need to wake up," said Michael Barnett, American Life League's director of leadership development and its LiveCampus college outreach program. "Under Obama, the federal government is forcing a religious institution to commit an act that violates its core values. This is religious persecution and a clear signal of what Obamacare would bring. This is the government imposing its will against the people's will."
In a letter to the Belmont, the EEOC claimed that the school discriminated against women by not covering contraceptives: "By denying prescription contraception drugs, [the college] is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women."
In a letter subsequently sent to EEOC chairman Stuart Ishimaru, Judie Brown, president of American Life League, pointed out, "The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is an evil and certainly not the sort of 'treatment' one would expect to find in a health insurance plan designed for staff at a Catholic facility. Your discriminatory actions against the college are unfounded and unconstitutional."
William K. Thierfelder, Belmont's president, affirmed that rather than provide contraceptive coverage, "We would close the college."
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