Colorado Catholic college caught in crossfire of mandatory contraception insurance law
DENVER, CO, September 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic college in Colorado is contemplating how to respond to a new state law that mandates that insurance plans cover contraception, including the abortifacient morning-after-pill, according to a statement issued by the college.
At the same time, the college has reaffirmed its commitment to not distribute or even refer for the drugs.
“About two weeks ago, Regis University learned from Aetna, the insurance carrier for our student health plan, of a change in Colorado law which requires insurers to pay for contraceptives,” the university said. “We are exploring with our lawyers and other Catholic entities what options if any may be available in light of the new law.”
The statement continued: “As a matter of principle, the Regis health clinic does not prescribe nor provide medicines or devices for contraceptive purposes, nor make referrals for such purposes. This will not change.”
CNA reported that Regis University’s website initially announced that the institution would refer for the drugs.
“The Student Health Center will not be providing contraceptives, but will now refer students to other places where they can receive them” the website had said.
However, Rhonda P. Sheya, Regis University director of internal and external relations, called this report “inaccurate,” according to CNA.
The new Colorado law mandates that all insurance policies, including that of the Catholic college, cover the costs if a student obtains a prescription for a contraceptive or the abortifacient “morning-after” pill. In 2010, the Colorado legislature passed the mandate, which requires the coverage in all small-group and individual health insurance plans.
The mandate does not have a religious exemption clause, and as a result, affects Catholic social service agencies, health care providers, and colleges and universities, Catholic business owners, and others who do not want to cover the drugs. The Colorado Catholic Conference opposed the bill while Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America supported it.
“We, along with many legislators, attempted to get a religious exemption. Unfortunately that did not happen,” Colorado Catholic Conference executive director Jennifer Kraska told CNA.
“There were times throughout the legislative process in which aspects of Catholic teaching and belief were mocked or mischaracterized,” she said.
Bill sponsor and Democratic state Senator Joyce Foster made a Senate Floor speech, citing Catholics for Choice material on the issue. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has observed, however, that the Washington, D.C.-based organization is not Catholic and does not speak for the Catholic Church.
In August, the Obama administration announced a new federal regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services that insurance plans cover contraceptives, elective sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs such as Plan B and Ella. The mandate came after a massive, months-long push by abortion giant Planned Parenthood to establish free birth control for American women.
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