Catholic College Won’t Reveal Insurer; Yet Another Contraception Accommodation in the Works?

In a twist that shows just how absurd the entire debate over “religious freedom” and the Affordable Care Act has become — and the futility of trying to find any compromise to satisfy religious conservatives — a federal judge has granted Ave Maria College an injunction against complying with the contraception mandate because it requires the Catholic college to tell the government who its insurer is.

The Obama administration in August crafted an accommodation to its original accommodation to the mandate because religious nonprofits complained that having to fill out a form to notify their insurers of their intent to opt-out would make them complicit in the provision of contraception.

The new accommodation required nonprofits who objected to the mandate to send the Department of Health and Human Services a letter stating their intent to opt-out of the mandate; HHS would then notify their insurer, who would be responsible for providing the coverage. This letter also had to include the pertinent facts about the employers’ health plan, such as who their insurer is, contact information for the insurer and what type of plan it is.

Ave Maria sent HHS a letter stating its intent to opt-out of the mandate by the November 1 deadline, but refused to name its insurer or provide any other details, which could have made it liable for up to $17 million in penalties without the injunction, which is the first to specifically block the revised accommodation.

The question of religious accommodations under the act’s contraceptive requirement long ago leapt the bounds of any recognizable debate over Catholic moral theology and the acceptable degrees of cooperation with forbidden services like contraception. Instead, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and allies like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which reprents Ave Maria, have seized on objections to the mandate as a political tool to beat back the trend of widespread access to no-cost contraception for women, particularly by making the false assertion that emergency contraception is an abortifacient.

In its comments to the latest version of the accommodation, the USCCB took it a step further and asserted that not only are contraceptives not a preventive service, but actually pose a health threat to women, revealing a deep hostility to women’s exercise of fertility management:

Unlike other mandated “preventive services,” prescription contraceptives covered by this mandate do not prevent disease. Instead, they disrupt the healthy functioning of the human reproductive system, temporarily or permanently creating the condition of infertility commonly seen as a health problem. Indeed, various contraceptives are associated with adverse health outcomes, including an increased risk of such serious conditions as AIDS, breast and cervical cancer, cardiac failure, and stroke.

Like Ave Maria, the bishops also objected to the new accommodation on the grounds that “the eligible organization’s health plan continues to be used as the mechanism or vehicle” to provide the objectionable contraceptive coverage, which “substantially burdens the religious liberty of stakeholders with religious objections to the mandate coverage.”

In granting the injunction, U.S. District Judge James Moody cited the 11th Circuit Court’s decision to grant the Eternal World Television Network, a Catholic television network, an injunction against the enforcement of the original accommodation just hours after the Hobby Lobby decision found that the federal government couldn’t force for-profit businesses with a religious objection to contraception to provide it under the ACA. While that injuction was against the original accommodation, Moody said he didn’t see a “significant” distinction between the two notification requirements.

Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria, said he hoped that the decision would have “ripple effect” on other pending cases against the accommodation and be “the beginning of the end for the Obamacare mandate.”

Ave Maria College and Ave Maria Law School, which also objected to the accommodation, were founded by Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan, a major funder of conservative Catholic causes, as a “school where traditional Catholic values and thought were built into every part of the curriculum” with the support of prominent conservative Catholics, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork.

Both the Ave Maria and ETWN cases will go to trial. It’s not clear by what magical powers the administration can enforce the mandate if they don’t know who the relevant insurers are, but perhaps they have some kind of accommodation for that.

9 Comments

  • joerogers67@gmail.com' joeyj1220 says:

    Obama’s big mistake was making the accommodation in the first place. …. If you give a mouse a cookie…

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Keep up the good fight Christians. Our rights are the new civil rights of our day. Stand up, speak boldly and refuse to compromise your faith! Be ready to hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    Italy has a national, public healthcare system. They cover contraception. They cover the morning after pill. You remember Italy, that country that surrounds the Vatican?

    Seriously, though, where is the RCC outrage at other socialized medical systems that pay for contraception? Why do catholics in Italy, Canada, and the rest of the countries that have national healthcare systems not have this problem? Are US catholics saying that all the other catholics are going to hell for subsidizing contraception?

    This is just the continuing attempt to control women, pure and simple.

    And, as a final thought, most, if not all of those countries that DO subsidize contraception have better healthcare systems that cost less and provide better services than the US.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    Frank, just stop. It’s just sad. You look like such a fool saying such nonsense.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    I’m not sure which additional civil rights your fellow christocrats are seeking to claim. You have the same as any other citizen, except for the citizens your sect/cult has chosen to marginalize through religion tainted politics. You have all the 1st Amendment allows anyone. Just because you can’t get everyone to behave the way an antiquated book dictates doesn’t mean you’ve been denied anything. Why not behave like this Jesus person and go wander around for 40 days without food and water?

  • acemagic5@hotmail.com' Anthony Nuccio says:

    Well said.

  • dkeane123@comcast.net' DKeane123 says:

    They have the Vatican surrounded? Thank goodness.

  • kithkal@ubernet.net' Ben says:

    Because in other countries the people are subjects not sovereigns. We are kings and queen without subjects. They are subjects to kings and queens or just to an oligarchy. We have God given rights in the USA. They have government grants of rights. Look what just happened in Hong Kong where the Communist Chinese government made it very clear to the people fighting for a right to elect who they want to elect that the right to vote comes from the government. No where else. So the government decides if they have the right to vote.

    When rights come from governments and not from God then governments can take away those rights. When a nation rejects God , like the USA has, then the government seizes authority and the sovereign citizens become serfs.

    In the USA those grants were once called privileges and could always be taken away, like Social Security or a government job. The RFRA is not a right. It is a privilege. It was created by Congress after the SCOTUS destroyed any and all of the original intent on the First Amendment free exercise clause. The socialist left got blindsided by the RFRA in their push to remove God from everything public. Isn’t it fun to watch them squirm?

    Socialized medicine is socialism and Christians like me believe that socialism is evil. When you FORCE people to “do good” then that alleged good becomes evil as it take away freedom. Therefore, people like me MUST oppose laws that force people to subsidize your insurance/medical care or give charity or pay for your abortion.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “…Christians like me believe that socialism is evil.” -Ben

    You can believe whatever you want, I don’t care. What I do care about is when someone attempts to boil down whatever we are talking about into a “good vs. evil” cage match. That is neither constructive nor accurate.

    And, if your god ever shows up, we will allow him/her/it a seat at the table to discuss things. But until that time, you can either be part of the problem, part of the solution, or just part of the scenery. (Hint: attempting to point the simplistic finger at “evil” is not part of the solution, nor is it being part of the scenery. Please use real world facts when supporting your views.)

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