Faithful Catholic college faces lawsuit over refusal to provide contraception
The president of a small Catholic college said Friday he would rather close the school’s doors than violate the church’s teachings on contraception — Ben Conery of the Washington Times has the story:
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has determined that Belmont Abbey College violated discrimination laws because the school’s employee health insurance plan does not cover contraception, according to a letter the EEOC sent to the school.
“I hope it would never get this far,” college President William K. Thierfelder told The Washington Times, “but if it came down to it we would close the college before we ever provided that.”
The factual conclusion reached by the EEOC could be a precursor to the commission filing a federal discrimination lawsuit against the college. (More).
Eight BAC faculty members filed a complaint against the college for removing coverage for abortion, sterilization, and contraception from their employee health insurance, supplied by Wellpath. The faculty first complained to the North Carolina Department of Insurance that BAC was required to cover contraception under state law because it did not qualify for the religious employer exemption. Both the state department and Wellpath, however, disagreed with the complainants.
“If you ever came on this campus, the first thing you see is the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians,” said Thierfelder. “That basilica is connected to a monastery. That monastery is connected to the main administration building.”
The group of complainants, who joined forces with the National Women’s Law Center, then made a gender discrimination complaint to the EEOC, which in March informed the Abbey that it had closed the issue. Two months later, the EEOC reversed its decision.
“By denying prescription contraception drugs, Respondent [the college] is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives,” wrote Reuben Daniels Jr., the EEOC Charlotte District Office Director in the determination. “By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women.”
College president William Thierfelder is insistent that the school maintain its fidelity to Catholic teaching:
“[I]t is absolute, unequivocal, impossible for us to go against the teachings of the Catholic Church in any way. There is no form of compromise that is possible.”
Meanwhile, the Manager of University Events for Gonzaga University (“in the Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic tradition”) seems to have some anger-management issues regarding conservatives — and a particular affection towards Planned Parenthood. (Hat tip to Carl Olson for the latter).