Wheaton College Sues Over Health Care Mandate

The college's president calls a Health and Human Services mandate a threat to religious liberty

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The college's president calls a Health and Human Services mandate a threat to religious liberty. Kim Vatis reports. (Published Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012)

    An evangelical suburban liberal arts college is suing over a Health and Human Services mandate that the school says violates "deeply held religious beliefs."

    Wheaton College joined the Catholic University of America Wednesday to file a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., over the Obama administration's preventative services regulation requiring the school's health insurance to cover the cost of contraceptives for employees.

    “Wheaton College and other distinctively Christian institutions are faced with a clear and present threat to our religious liberty,” college president Dr. Philip Ryken said in a statement. “Our first president, the abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, believed it was imperative to act in defense of freedom. In bringing this suit, we act in defense of freedom again.”

    It marks the 24th lawsuit challenging the Health and Human Services regulation under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago were among the plaintiffs in a May 21 lawsuit.

    In February Cardinal Francis George publically took issue with a top-down mandate for religious groups to include health insurance for birth control and emergency contraception.

    In a letter read across local Catholic congregations, Cardinal George asked parishioners to pray that justice will prevail in the matter. "We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law," he wrote.

    Kyle Duncan, a lawyer for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which represents Wheaton College, said the mandate goes beyond the Catholic Church and "threatens people of all faiths.”

    “Wheaton’s historic decision to join the fight alongside a Catholic institution shows the broad consensus that the mandate endangers everyone's religious liberty,” Duncan said.