Dallas' Very Tiny, Very Baptist Criswell College Takes On Obamacare's Contraception Mandate

Categories: Legal Battles

Criswell-College.jpg
Criswell College is comprised of a couple of buildings on a single block in East Dallas at the intersection of Gaston and Haskell. The 42-year-old institution is tiny, just 322 students, but deeply religious.

Its mission is centered on preparing students for the ministry, which it does according to the theology of the Southern Baptist Convention. All faculty members are required to subscribe to the college's Articles of Faith, centered on the unwavering belief in the Bible as the unerring Word of God. Prospective students are required to write an admissions essay "describing when they came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as savior."

"Everything taught at Criswell is saturated with Scripture," the school proudly proclaims. Several days each semester, Criswell shuts down so that "all faculty and students go into the surrounding community for the purpose of praying with people and sharing the gospel message through personal evangelism encounters."

The details above are all spelled out in a lawsuit Criswell filed yesterday against the Obama Administration, with an assist from Plano's Liberty Institute.

The school is unhappy with the Department of Health and Human Services requirement that employers, including many that are religiously affiliated, provide contraception coverage through their health plans.

In the past, Criswell has made a point to negotiate health plans that don't provide coverage for certain contraceptives, including Plan B and Ella. Criswell, the school explains in the suit, believes that God's prohibition against murder in the Sixth Commandment includes abortion. It also believes that human life begins at conception and that using drugs like Plan B, which prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, is tantamount to murder.

The mandate provides exemptions for churches and organizations that employ only people who share a certain faith, but that exemption doesn't apply to Criswell, since its non-teaching staff are not required to subscribe to the Articles of Faith. The school argues that requiring it to pay for such coverage, even indirectly thanks to Obama's superficial workaround, is a violation of a number of federal laws and constitutional provisions, most notably the one protecting free exercise of religion.

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44 comments
joearpaio
joearpaio

I'm fed up with paying higher group insurance premiums because of you fat-asses and smokers.  

observist
observist

Employers negotiate with health insurance providers to determine what the policy will cover and how much they will pay in premiums.  Then they determine how much the employee will contribute toward the premium.  There are so many opportunities to tinker with premiums, co-pays, coverage terms, and salaries that I don't understand why either side of the argument gets worked up about this issue.   For example, if a heath insurance plan adds birth control coverage and at the same time increases monthly premiums by the average cost of birth control pills, say $25/month, is the employer actually "paying" for birth control coverage?  Is any employee going to be surprised if their health insurance premiums go up by $25/month?  I would be happy if my health insurance premiums only went up $25/month in any given year.

 

I think this is another symptom of how screwed up our health insurance system is.  Why do we assume insurance is the only way to pay for predicable, non-emergency heath maintenance expenses?   We don't expect car insurance to pay for gas, oil changes and new tires, or homeowner's insurance to pay for water, gas, electricity and lawn mowing.  Why do we need health insurance to pay for any and all things related to healthcare, instead of just "catastrophic" care?  This strangeness is a major contributing factor to the price opacity of healthcare, which in turn prevents normal market competition from lowering prices.

CornyDogs
CornyDogs

So this college wants essentially a "sin tax" on birth control for it's employees who INDIVIDUALLY CHOOSE whether they want to take birth control.

 

There is NO REQUIREMENT that employees actually have to use birth control. 

 

The federal law is trying to KEEP EMPLOYERS FROM RELIGIOUSLY DISCRIMINATING their employees' PERSONAL CHOICES.

MattL11
MattL11

I've driven past this place probably 1000 times. Never knew what it was until now. East Dallas seems an odd place for a bible college, but whatever. 

 

On to the matter at hand, they're probably going to lose, but not before some lawyers have a bit of fun with it. 

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

The only way the religious folks will get any sympathy and support from the left is to blow a lot of shit and people up, or worship some sort of mystic animal

CitzenKim
CitzenKim

I don't like the fundementalists any more than the next guy, but I think the Federal Gov needs to exerise a little discretion here.  Maybe if you go to work for a super-fundementalist organization that is deeply opposed to birth control and abortion, perhaps you should consider that having to pay yourself for those items may be part of the package.  If the Feds keeps trying to force these universal rules down the throat of religious organizations that are so deeply opposed, there's going to be a revolt.

 

This current situation is somewhat like a bible-thumper going to work at a strip club then demanding that the women put on clothes because the nudity offends them.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

But if all the biblethumpers are obeying their commandments, the won't be needing any birth control anyway, so what's the big deal?

plfarmer
plfarmer

For those against choice, please explan what we should do in an ectopic pregnancy?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @observist except, the cost of the benefit, if they offer other prescription coverage is negligible or essentially nothing.  certainly not $25/mo. maybe $25 for the year.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @censormeallyouwant fascists would side with the giving rights to employers over employees?  Individual rights are anathema to fascists.  Or, don't you know the meaning of the word, literally, a bundle of sticks. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @censormeallyouwant freedom for employers to dictate your private personal medical choices?  Or freedom for employees to keep that stuff private?  Another nitwit argument you've latched on to cause your ideological sophists have played you for a fool again.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @CitzenKim not at all.  And, if these bible thumpers knew their bible they'd know that the old testament penalty for causing  a woman to terminate her pregnancy is not akin to murder, or even for wearing blended fabrics.  Why don't those guys follow Jesus and abstain from Pork, or any other precepts upon which Jesus said nothing?  A policy invented out of whole cloth?  A policy that is not expressly in the Bible?  While they ignore other whole swaths of the bible?

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

 @Montemalone  If you use your freedom of speech to make idiotic points, then why should you have freedom of speech?

 

Keep in mind that the State, not you, decides what and what isn't idiotic.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@Montemalone - Because some day someone may deign that your beliefs in the Constitution aren't worth squat, and since you've already agreed with their basic premise, you'll be ignored or ridiculed?

mcdallas
mcdallas topcommenter

 @Montemalone They don't need it.  But by mandate they are having to pay for it.  What if the shoe were on the other foot?  What if you were being forced to pay for something that goes against your deep beliefs and didn't intent to use?  Like, say, what if you were forced to contribute to the RNC? (not the best analogy, I admit).

CraigT42
CraigT42

 @Montemalone was reading the article too difficult?

"The mandate provides exemptions for churches and organizations that employ only people who share a certain faith, but that exemption doesn't apply to Criswell, since its non-teaching staff are not required to subscribe to the Articles of Faith."

 

cheeseburger
cheeseburger

 @Montemalone Because they don't have a problem with married people having sex?  You do realize that married people use birth control too, right?

Double-O-Joe
Double-O-Joe

 @Montemalone 

I came here prepared to make exactly the same comment.  If the flock really is as pure as the driven snow, then why would they need access to birth control?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @plfarmer And what question should the great numbers of us who have beliefs that fall in some grey area answer?  You know, those of us who are personally against abortion but socially pro-choice.  Those of us who think birth control should be readily available for responsible people to purchase of their own means, and not socialize their lack of responsibility for their sexual choices.  There are discount programs, individual insurance riders and *gasp* savings accounts, where people can set aside the money to buy their own damn birth control.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@plfarmer The same thing you do if you want a boy and conceive a girl, remove the malignancy and try again.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @plfarmer I can't speak for other religions.  It is my understanding that Roman Catholics adhere to the philosophy maternal health needs outweigh the need for a live birth or the potential for life.

 

In the case of an ectopic pregnancy the mother is at high risk of death at an early stage of the pregnancy and it is considered highly unlikely that the fetus will develop to a point where it would be viable outside the mother.

 

One of the points in Roe v. Wade upholds this concept that abortion is permissible in the instance where maternal health needs outweigh the potential for life.

Edgar
Edgar

 @plfarmer

As I understand it, in an ectopic pregnancy, the fetus cannot become viable.  In that circumstance, the term "abortion" is a misnomer.  That term, for me, entails aborting the path toward the birth of a living being.  In an ectopic pregnancy, the mother is not on that path.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @censormeallyouwant  @CornyDogs This provides and ensures personal liberty, not employer liberty to dictate the minutia of one's healthcare.  Do you use connies, the rhythm method, or had surgical alterations?   Oh yeah, lucky for you palms can't get preggers.

observist
observist

@Montemalone @albert.finney000 I agree with that entire statement except for "up"

censormeallyouwant
censormeallyouwant

 @scottindallas Any employee is free to purchase health insurance that they prefer from any provider they prefer. Insurance offered by employers is a benefit and should not be required by law at all.

 

And Scott.. I said fascists.. not faggots.. but what's the difference right?

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @mcdallas  @Montemalone actually doesn't cost squat.  Insurers are all too happy to provide work-arounds.   No, this is all grandstanding.  You know the GOP, they love their shows.  Death penalty shows, ensuring the partial birth abortion bill fails--to show up "activists judges;"  this is just another big fuss for simple grandstanding. 

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@mcdallas @Montemalone - Kinda like unions, which force their members to contribute to Democrats. Except where they've lost the power, in which case the great majority if union members stop paying dues altogether. This is why choice is not a universal belief on the left.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@cheeseburger @Montemalone - The issue is not who or who does not use BC or why, the issue is Constitutional guarantees.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@Double-O-Joe @Montemalone - Uh, they aren't asking for birth control, free or otherwise.

rain391
rain391

 @Edgar  @plfarmer You are correct.  The embryo implants in one of the woman's tubes instead of the uterus where it continues to grow or until a miscarriage occurs. When the embryo grows larger than the tube can stretch, the woman has significant pain, the tubecan break open and it becomes a medical emergency for the mother since she is hemorrhaging internally.  The embryo or tiny fetus is usually already dead by that time because when the tube ruptures, it is no longer implanted in the Mother for life support.  This happens in the course of the Mother's medical emergency.  The only treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is to remove the pregnancy from the tube.  It can be done if caught before the hemorrhaging has begun or in the middle of the life/death situation for the Mother.  This is NOT an abortion because this was never going to grow to be born.

plfarmer
plfarmer

 @Edgar

 I agree, viablity should be the rule. But there whole agrument is that ensoulment is at conception. To save the mother, the argument goes, you must 'kill' the 'person'to save thye mother life, or let both die.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @mcdallas  @plfarmer Yes this is true.  It is also a central tenet of the RC religion that life begins at conception.  The Catholic Church believes that the use of contraception is equivalent to elective abortions.

 

Nevertheless, the RC Church does believe that maternal health needs must be balanced against the potential for life.  In the event of something such as an ectopic pregnancy, the termination of the ectopic pregnancy would not be considered to be against the Church's beliefs.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

 @plfarmer  @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  @Edgar Actually the fight in the story has nothing to do with abortion, but with birth control, which they equate with murder.  You're taking the argument about a non-emergency personal option and trying to equate it to a life-threatening medical emergency.  Apples and Roast Beef.

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