Christian College Takes Away All Student Health Insurance Over Birth Control Temper Tantrum
by JAMESON PARKER –
For conservative Christians, being “pro-life” is beginning to look a lot like “anti-healthcare for post-born people.” Hundreds of college students at one of the country’s leading Evangelical universities are beginning to learn that the hard way.
Wheaton College announced this week that they are discontinuing all health insurance for their students because the Affordable Care Act won’t allow them to specifically deny birth control, which they say violates their religious freedoms. So rather than simply accept that some of their students might have sex and might use birth control, the school says nobody gets any form of health insurance at all. American students who wish to avoid going bankrupt if they become sick or get injured while attending classes must now scramble to find their own health insurance on the open market. Foreign students are out of luck entirely. At Wheaton College, prayer is now the only healthcare students have access too.
Like most terrible decisions conservative businesses have made in the past year, this one stems directly from the Supreme Court’s very own terrible decision to cave in to Christian-owned retailer Hobby Lobby and open the door to all kinds of religious exemptions for “sincerely held beliefs.” Fortunately, the Obama administration quickly realized how insanely problematic that loophole was and worked towards closing it. Christian organizations haven’t taken it well.
Wheaton College’s vice president of student development tried to defend the school’s actions by taking – what else? – the moral high ground. He explained to students now faced with no healthcare that while it wasn’t great for them, it was for a better cause because (I’m paraphrasing here) “tyranny”:
“What has brought us here is about student health insurance, but it’s bigger than student health insurance. What really breaks my heart is that there are real people that are affected by our decision. But if we don’t win this case, the implications down the road in terms of what the government will tell us what we can and cannot do will be potentially more significant. I acknowledge that students have been hurt by this decision and I regret that.”
Hopefully students haven’t been physically hurt by this decision, of course, because that would almost certainly mean massive hospital bills for the now uninsured kids.
Even more infuriatingly, Wheaton College seems to draw no distinction between “contraceptives” and “abortifacients” – even though the scientific and medical communities sure do.
Wheaton College says it has set up a “hardship fund” that students may be able to use if they get sick or injured and now face overwhelming bills because of their school’s decision to take a moral stand at their expense. As USA Today notes, other Christian colleges have accepted a compromise plan which would allow them to note their objections and instruct insurance carriers to provide coverage “directly to students” rather than through the school itself. While that compromise does allow religious institutions to save a bit of face, Wheaton isn’t buying it. Instead, they want to make sure their students NEVER have access to birth control in any kind of arrangement, no matter how removed from the school’s hands it is.
While there may be a certain segment of the conservative Christian base that will swoon over the idea of a college standing up to big bad President Obama and his mean health insurance requirements, as parents it might be hard for many to accept the idea that their kids are being used as fodder in a one-sided religious war against the ACA. After all, religious ideals and actual human behavior don’t often fit snugly and birth control, even for teens who are supposed to be saving themselves for marriage, isn’t exactly a bad idea to make available. The flesh is weak and all that.
Many parents might not be thrilled to see their child come home for winter break with a visible baby bump because their school thought Jesus would find birth control icky. Nor would the idea that their child might trip and fall and wind up with thousands of dollars in hospital fees help anxious parents sleep better at night. These are the kinds of things that have got to factor in when parents and kids are choosing potential colleges. Wheaton College wants to fight Obamacare, but it doesn’t mind allowing its students to be collatoral damage. Something tells me that isn’t going to wind up in the “prospective students” brochure.