University of Dallas Celebrates Last-Minute Reprieve From Giving Employees Birth Control

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While its students enjoyed the waning days of 2013 as a reprieve from schoolwork, the University of Dallas was eyeing the new year with trepidation. On January 1, Obamacare's contraception mandate was set to kick in, meaning the school would have to start offering free contraception under its insurance plans.

It had objected to the requirement in a 2012 lawsuit against the Obama administration, arguing that the measure would violate the school's Catholic principles, but the suit was far from resolution. UD probably could have qualified for an exemption under a compromise, announced by Obama last February, allowing religiously affiliated institutions to opt out of the mandate by getting a waiver and having their insurer (in UD's case a small nonprofit created to provide coverage to employees of UD, Austin College and TCU) foot the bill for contraception coverage, but the school found such a legalistic workaround deeply unsatisfying.

Then, on New Year's Eve, U.S. District Judge Terry Means gave UD its wish: a temporary injunction exempting the university from the contraception mandate. The school boasted of its victory in a Thursday press release.

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

"Providing these types of care is contrary to the values of the University of Dallas and to the teachings of the Catholic Church," UD President Thomas Keefe said in a prepared statement. "Clearly, the provision is a violation of the First Amendment and federal civil rights laws."

The reprieve isn't permanent, though Means writes that there is a "substantial likelihood" that the university will prevail once the case goes to trial. It also isn't quite as momentous as it might have been had not Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor handed down a decision on the same day in a case involving a group of Denver nuns temporarily barring the federal government from enforcing the contraception mandate. But a win's a win.

In his opinion, Means notes that federal courts have been divided on whether the contraception mandates violates the rights religiously affiliated institutions. He takes his cue from a judge in Houston, Lee Rosenthal, who granted an injunction on behalf of East Texas Baptist University on the grounds that the new rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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83 comments
lrb415
lrb415

If Catholic institutions are hiring people of different or no faith then birth control should be covered. If they are only hiring Catholic's then they might as well offer it because of course none of there Catholic employees would use it anyway. Baahhaaaaaaa


Deelio
Deelio

If UD (and the Catholic church in general) are so against BC, then perhaps they should preach it from the pulpit. If they can't convey the message through the pulpit, they maybe the message isn't as strong as they think. They're now asking the government to enforce their beliefs that their own people aren't agreeing with. I wonder if they have a similar stance against filling Viagra for single people.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

This issue here is simple: Should the government pass a law that forces members of a religion to violate their basic moral principles? Laying aside the Constitutional issues, is it wise? As crafted, Health Care lays an impossible burden on Roman Catholics who follow Church teaching, thus forcing them to choose between the State and their church. The practical result is to alienate a substantial portion of the population from its own government.

To return to the Constitutional issue, the purpose of the a"separation clause" was to guarantee that citizens  are free to practice their religion without interference by the State. All citizens, Catholic or Muslim or Jewish or whatever, enjoy this protection. Could the state order a Muslim restaurant to serve pork? Could it order a Bishop to ordain female priests in the interest of gender equality? My father remembered a time during Prohibition when the State of Colorado proposed a ban on sacramental wine in religious services.


The same principle protects non-believers as well. The State cannot force a religious practice or belief upon its citizens. People who want birth control can still obtain it for themselves or find an employer or insurer who will do so. Should they be able to force their Catholic employers to provide it for them? Should they be able to force that employer to provide an abortion for them?  


Those who wrote the Constitution wisely recognized there are areas into which the State must not intrude if individual rights are to be maintained, even when it seems prudent to do otherwise. Religion and religious practice is one of them.

 

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

This is the reason healthcare should be nationalized.

Why should your healthcare be related to where you work, who you work for and what they believe in? Totally ridiculous.

Lorlee
Lorlee

After reading all the off of topic and abusive ad hominem comments, I really think this blog would be much improved if all the identified "top commenters" taking some time off. 

kategorical
kategorical

Okay, I went to UD, and I taught at a Catholic school for several years after that.  I have a condition where BC pills are the medically necessary treatment and without which I get so anemic I will pass out.  I never ONCE got my BC pills covered by my insurance until I moved to a secular employer.  What these institutions who hold BC hostage say is that if it is medically necessary, then there is a waiver.  Yeah, there's a waver and your doctor fills it out, but the insurance companies don't want to pay any more than they have to so they deny your waver.  I'm a freaking LESBIAN, I don't use my BC pills for anything other than treating my condition (a morally licit use according to Catholic teaching), and these kinds of policies make employees in similar situations have to shell out far to much money just because they work for a Catholic institution.  

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

You know who we should ask.... the 30% of children living in/at/below the poverty level in Dallas how happy they are. I'm glad people believe in no child left behind and every child is awesome and life is just super for everyone breathing, but I would prefer to see protestors handing out meals at night to children who don't get to eat rather than making signs with a fetus http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20131112-study-nearly-30-of-dallas-county-children-growing-up-in-poverty.ece

ruddski
ruddski

I may have to re-think my position on the first amendment and FoR act.

Anything that restrains American Womyn from fucking their brains out is probably a bad policy for an American male to support.

observist
observist topcommenter

Thank GOD the government will no longer interfere with UD's continuing efforts to facilitate unwanted pregnancies! 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

This institution of "higher learning" recently garnished tenth place on the Princeton Review's least friendly LGBT colleges in the US.  At least, the University of Dallas is consistently backward.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

It must be so gratifying for the Catholic Church to be able to continue to impose their will on a few dozen university employees.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@bmarvel 

Yes, simple. Time for the government to sponsor birth-control and take that issue completely out of the hands of religious institutions.

Consider it a good start on single-payer health care insurance.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@bmarvelThe government is not forcing anyone to take birth control pills, so I call bullshit.

JFPO
JFPO

Yep. A few years ago the comments section had a "community" feel to it. Now it's just the same 10 idiots day after day who obviously don't have day jobs, unless they're engaging in massive time theft against their employers.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Listen to Miss Holier-Than-Thou, jumped-up, blue-nosed, prim and proper bitch woman.  [That was mild.  Stick around until Myrna really gets going]

TheOneandOnly
TheOneandOnly

@kategoricalYou know, I had a job once and I didn't like the health care plan. So I got a new job. Fixed it for you. Wanting something doesn't entitle you to it.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz 

I'm sure that UD is absolutely terrified about that piece in Princeton Review.

Why is it that the media bends all over the place for the Muslim faith, but not for Catholics?

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

Technically...Don't employers "impose their will" on employees every day they show up for work?

ruddski
ruddski

As opposed to the Obama administration forcing people to violate their religious convictions under threat of the gun.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Montemalone@bmarvelThe government will be forcing people, against their religious convictions, to pay for others' birth control through employer-provided insurance plans -- in the case currently being argued in front of the Supreme Court, a group pf Catholic nuns who operate rest homes for the poor and elderly.


Now, you may not agree that birth control is immoral. You may think religion is hokum and religious convictions are trivial and nuns are antiquated relics of the Dark Ages. But the Constitution was set up to guarantee that the State honors citizens' rights to their religious convictions and not force them to actions that run contrary to those convictions (otherwise the right to hold religious convictions would be meaningless). 

Therefore, what is being tested here is religious freedom. Nobody is being required to take birth control. But body should be forced to provide birth control for somebody else. Suppose the issue were abortion coverage -- which it may very well be, soon enough. Should someone who believes that abortion is literally the murder of a human being, albeit a very tiny and helpless one, be forced to provide someone else with an abortion?  Where, then, does the power of the State to force its citizens to commit repugnant acts stop?

Rather than force its citizens into such a dilemma -- the kind of dilemma that led thousand of religious dissenters to flee the Old  World -- our forefathers decided that religion is out of bounds, beyond the States' power to command or forbid. And so, though we have not always had religious harmony, we have never had a religious war.



Oxtail
Oxtail

@JFPO I'm thinking some of the "commenters" are hired.

Lorlee
Lorlee

@Myrna.Minkoff-KatzYou are simply proving my point.  Most of us don't really want to wait around for Myrna to get going.  And as a result, any real discussion doesn't happen because of the snark.  


CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@TheOneandOnly Nah, in this case, the Catholics have a very weak argument here. They must roll over.

ruddski
ruddski

During the cartoon crisis and the French car-b-cues, I think it was the NYT that explained why American media wouldn't publish the cartoons. It was because they were/are scared shitless (or voiceless) of Muslims. To illustrate one story, they used Piss Christ, that says it all.

Catholics would get more respect from the left if they started hanging the LGBLT community weekly, and beheading a few naysayers now and then.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@Rooster0620 

I suppose you could make that case. However, my employer doesn't hold a significant part of my healthcare insurance coverage hostage for the privilege of doing so.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

@ruddski That is incorrect. Most Catholic orgs signed onto a compromise making places like UD a minority of protesters even among Catholic orgs.

jmckee3
jmckee3

With the multitude of deeply held religious views how do you propose making that work in an al la carte insurance market for private medical choices? Do baptists get to exempt ethonal treatment for methanol poisoning? HIV medications when they firmly believe AIDS is a just punishment for sexually immorality? Where do you draw the line, it's just the Catholics that get to force one of their deeply held religous views on their employees?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@bmarvel @Montemalone Another problem here is that birth control pills are used for other -- very valid -- reasons besides preventing pregnancy. Some women are prescribed them only for the effects of the hormones at treating diseases such as endometriosis, which affects millions. In addition, I believe the DHHS has enacted a solution in these cases wherein the insurers must foot the bill for birth control -- not the religious employer. Catholics themselves are split on the issue, with the extremely conservative Conference of Catholic Bishops leading the opposition. It seems most of the opposition stems from a sense among conservative Catholics that this is the start of a slippery slope that could only end in a complete loss of their religious freedom. Reminds me of the gun nuts who don't want more rigorous background checks because they fear it will end with mandatory federal registration.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@Lorlee  If you'd get off your high horse you'd see that I was the one being attacked for my views.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaulIt's still nonsense, former Paul. The Church has no position on media coverage of Islam. Nor does the media seem harsher on the Catholic church than it is on Islam. 

In general, I would say the media doesn't "get" religion of any kind. But once again as a practicing Catholic I don't think the  media is less fair to my religion than to any others.

ruddski
ruddski

Bad shit happens in threes.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ruddski I was wrong.  There WAS room for you to dumb yourself down, after all.  My sweet.

ruddski
ruddski

So by demonstrating an ignorance of basic issues like taxes, laws, and the enforcement thereof, you've smacked me down.

Logic isn't your strong suit, is it hon?

Fair enough, but is it fair to the DO for you to do your Fool's Dance on their stage?

ruddski
ruddski

Great, then you can ignore me.

ruddski
ruddski

I realize you may have missed a lot of history that I cite, so it confuses you. But I'm not gonna dumb down for you, hon.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ruddski How luscious for us to have you bang on incoherently in the New Year, just as in past years!

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz As a former Catholic -- confirmed and everything -- I can assure you that many Catholics don't care one whit about this anachronistic edict. In fact, current polling results bear out that if the Church was ruled by popular vote, rather than by twisted old pederasts, such nonsense would have been scrapped by now. 

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

Balderdash. Employers pick and choose coverages and deductibles every year as a part of negotiations with their health insurance provider.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

If Francis is any sort of harbinger of things to come, the liberalism of the Church -- even if just lip-service at this point -- seems to be gaining momentum. I'd wager that a papal encyclical may come any decade now declaring birth control A-OK. More than 90% of Catholics use it, anyway. 

ruddski
ruddski

Right now, it's Sotamayers opinion that has them winning, that's a fact.

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

@ruddski Not incorrect at all. For example the Catholic Health Association takes a different position than the Bishops and its the CHA that actually is an umbrella representing hundreds of hospitals and not the Bishops.

I'll leave who is "winning" to history as that is a matter of opinion and not fact.

ruddski
ruddski

Incorrect, but regardless, this "minority" is winning.

ruddski
ruddski

But justice Sotamayor is not a right-winger.

Credible, have you been taking dancing lessons from the resident New York Sophisticate?

ruddski
ruddski

Sorry, but Obama is such an idiot and classless rube, it's my duty as an American to snot the man.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ruddski You're obsessed with tossing Obama's name around.  Stand on your own for once.  My love...

ruddski
ruddski

I'm beginning to see a common problem you Obama voters exhibit.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The amendment is complicated when right-wingers read what they want into it.  Ruddski is just simple.

ruddski
ruddski

So you're saying the 1st Amendment is just too complicated.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ruddski 

It is a violation of their faith if another person uses birth-control that happens to be provided by a health-care insurance plan that they happen to sponsor in the context of being an employer in the public marketplace?

They're really reaching, here. Maybe Pope Progress the First can talk some sense into them.

ruddski
ruddski

It is a violation if their faith nonetheless, and apparently a violation of the religious freedoms act.

dfwheathen
dfwheathen

@ruddski  Gotta love how the "Enlightened Few" hang out on the Dallas Observer comments section.

ruddski
ruddski

Myrna, if slavery is your baseline, why do you defer to those who were and are the greatest practitioners of human slavery?

ruddski
ruddski

Yeah, your hated oppressors. Rise up Womyn! Move! There are places for the Enlightened Few!

Surely you know of some classy flats on the West Bank, something Cindy Sheehan would approve of.

ruddski
ruddski

Like constitutionalism, the ism that upsets lefties the most.

ruddski
ruddski

Stood the test of time.

ruddski
ruddski

Yes, they are dearie - hence the centuries-old term

ruddski
ruddski

You mean your ignorance is all an act? I'm not buying it.

ruddski
ruddski

It's a common term, hon. It came into being long ago, because government has guns, and can use them to enforce its edicts.

Next, I'll explain payroll taxes for you.

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