A Catholic casualty in Pres. Obama’s war on the First Amendment: Franciscan University in Steubenville

Pres. Obama – whom Newsweek calls “The First Gay President” – and his administration are actively undermining not only our societal mores, but also our First Amendment rights.

His administration’s HHS mandate is an attack on religious liberty, for it would force Catholic (and other) institutions such as schools and hospitals to pay for abortifacients and contraceptives.  That means cooperation in evil.  Thus, Card. Dolan, as President of the USCCB, said that Catholics cannot and will not comply.

And so we turn to Life News for this story:

Obama Mandate Forces First Catholic College to Drop Insurance
by Steven Ertelt | Steubenville, OH | LifeNews.com | 5/15/12

Franciscan University appears to be the first casualty of the new Obama HHS mandate that requires Catholic colleges, groups and businesses to pay for drugs that may cause abortions and birth control for their employees.

Although President Barack Obama declared “If you like your health care coverage you can keep it,” [This was, apparently, an untruth.  I am reminded of the old phrase of Henry Ford about the Model-T.  You can have your automobile in any color you want, so long as it’s black.] when it came to passing Obamacare, a Catholic college in Ohio has determined it will no longer offer a student health insurance plan.

“The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover “women’s health services” including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” the university says in a new post on its website. “Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and we will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.”

“Additionally, the PPACA increased the mandated maximum coverage amount for student policies to $100,000 for the 2012-13 school year, which would effectively double your premium cost for the policy in fall 2012, with the expectation of further increases in the future,” FUS continues. [It’s all part of Pres. Obama’s vision for wealth redistribution.]

“Due to these changes in regulation by the federal government, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the University 1) will no longer require that all full-time undergraduate students carry health insurance, 2) will no longer offer a student health insurance plan, and 3) will no longer bill those not covered under a parent/guardian plan or personal plan for student health insurance,” the college said.

Franciscan University says the current student health insurance plan will expire on August 15.

Writing at CatholicVote, Tom Crowe, an employee at Franciscan University, blamed the mandate for Franciscan’s decision.


Read the rest there.

I hope the Magisterium of Nuns is happy with their efforts.

Sister Keehan! Give back that pen!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    I put this on my blog as well this morning. It is so indicative of the way things are going and will go. All those American Catholics who voted for this man caused this avalanche of intolerance and marginalization. And, need I remind all of the steps towards out and out persecution: buffoonery, marginalization, legalized intolerance, legalized proscription of religion, imprisonment and death. Get ready for worse IF this president is elected. Such sad times.

  2. Centristian says:

    “The First Gay Nun”

    Alright, everyone, stop laughing. I know it’s ridiculous.

  3. AnnAsher says:

    He’s pushing us toward socialized medicine. He knows Christian organizations will drop coverage and at the same time he’s made it mandatory that all Americans have coverage. So what is going to happen when our employers don’t provide policies and we can’t afford to buy private insurance?

  4. AnnAsher says:

    Supertradmum – thanks for the realistic summation of events to come.
    I’ve been looking at some of the Z, Father’s book reccomendations on survival when SHTF

  5. Lurker 59 says:

    I am an alumni of FUS (MA Theology) and this is a tactical mistake in the war over the various HHS mandates and Obamacare.

    The goal of the administration is single payer health insurance, which in turn is part of foundation for shifting the country irreversibly into socialism. The HHS mandates as well as the coverage regulations result in the increase in fees for private health insurance are intentional. The goal is to use both market forces as well as making it onerous for religious based organizations to supply health insurance to drive people and institutions out of the private market and into the federal system. The more you have people leaving the private market, the faster it will shrink because as the pool of insured decreases, the premiums increase which in turn drives people out of the system.

    FUS move here can only be seen as a win for Obamacare.

    Further, I don’t see the need of this move at all. The Supreme Court will be ruling on the constitutionality of the Obamacare in a few short weeks. Why not wait until you know what is going to happen?

  6. Austin Catholics says:

    “vision for wealth redistribution”

    I WISH Obama was concerned about wealth distribution, but he doesn’t seem to care at all.

    Inequality has got worse since he became president.

  7. If obama wants to redistribute some of his wealth, 21/2 to 8 million dollars I would gladly accept 35 percent of it. Oh yeah its about somebody else’s wealth that he wants to redistribute. Typical socialist!

  8. Frank_Bearer says:

    I guess it’s good that Steubenville is finally dropping their contraceptive coverage (at least for their students). Although apparently they still provide it for their employees; albeit only for non-contraceptive uses *wink wink*.

    Many schools on the list, including the University of Notre Dame, Franciscan University of Steubenville, University of Dallas and King’s College, provide coverage for contraceptives but not for the purposes of birth control

  9. Gail F says:

    As someone who owns a business, let me assure you that business owners have been aware from the get-go that the goal of this legislation is to end employer-paid health insurance. Small businesses that offer insurance do so pretty much only out of the conviction that it’s the right thing to do or because competitors do so (or both). Many businesses in my industry pay only half of their employees’ insurance policies or don’t offer it at all because it is so incredibly expensive. Here’s an unpleasant truth: If a small business offers insurance and none of its competitors do, the owner is at an incredible disadvantage. The money he pays for that insurance premium usually comes directly out of his pocket, making him earn considerably less than any of his competitors, or from the money he would otherwise use to upgrade his equipment or maintain his building. Or both. At the time the bill was being voted on, the talk of my industry — and many others, I’m sure — was that if competitors chose to pay the fine and dump their employers into the common pool, everyone would end up having to do the same or close their doors. This wasn’t just said in trade groups, it was said in the pages of business newspapers and magazines. Many, many people posited that as the regulators and lawmakers knew this would be the outcome (the fine per employee is far, far, FAR less than the yearly health insurance premiums), they were doing it on purpose to destroy the private health insurance industry. And many business owners would not mind if they did. Insurance badly needed reform, we must not forget that.

    The HHS Rule, I think, is just greed. They don’t want to wait for the private insurance market to collapse, they want universal healthcare that covers every possible expense NOW. And maybe, I hope, that greed will be the whole thing’s undoing. They don’t see any need to go slow because they have intended this all along and are getting impatient. A lot of people, sadly, are just figuring that out. If Sr. Keehan is one of them, she needs to give back her degree as well as her pen, because she’s an idiot. But I think a lot of people have been ignoring reality because they want their dream of free care for all to come true.

  10. flyfree432 says:

    “I guess it’s good that Steubenville is finally dropping their contraceptive coverage (at least for their students). Although apparently they still provide it for their employees; albeit only for non-contraceptive uses *wink wink*. ”

    Libel is never appropriate.

  11. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    @Centristian says:
    “The First Gay Nun”
    Alright, everyone, stop laughing. I know it’s ridiculous.

    I cannot work out if this is meant for sarcasm. I hope so, though somehow fear not (sarcasm is not really a U.S. thing) – but it should be. THAT is the problem with the Magisterium of Nuns.

  12. ckdexterhaven says:

    @Gail F. Exactamundo. Employers dropping coverage for employees is a feature, not a bug, in Obamacare.

    I knew Obama was lying when he said “if you like your coverage you can keep it,”. But now those words are even more true. We own our own business, and in November found out our premiums will go up $6k a year for crappier health insurance. It was just icing on the cake after Obama and Sebelius attacked our First Amendment rights. Still praying for our Supreme Court justices to kill Obamacare dead.

  13. digdigby says:

    Looking at Sister Keehan, I think of a poem by Polish Catholic poet Anna Kamieriska on Edith Stein who was gassed at Auschwitz. Particularly this:

    “Did a short cry burst from her breast
    when they tore off the black veil
    of the one betrothed to the Lamb?”

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    Wait. Don’t put Sister Keehan and Edith Stein in the same post. Please.

  15. Moro says:

    Quite Frankly, the Steubenville has not done enough. They need to file a lawsuit. Period. When gay “marriage” became the law of the land in DC, the Archdiocese of Washington turned around and took away spousal coverage because giving such coverage to gay “spouses” was suddenly illegal. Catholic Charities in Massachusetts decided to stop giving kids to gay couples rather than fight for the right to not do so in court.

    Why on earth are Catholic institutions just bowing down to pressure like this? They need to fight back. I for one would be happy to pony up as much cash as I can for this fight. We simply can’t afford not.

    If you work at a school like Steubenville, a Catholic charity, diocese, etc. you need to push the powers that be to file lawsuits and flood the courts. Force it all the way to the supreme court if need be.

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    Franciscan University at Steubenville does not have to:
    a) provide insurance services for its students if the cost is going to become prohibitive, OR
    b) be a battering ram for the rest of the laity who are the ones really to blame for this because the Catholic lay vote put Obama into office in the first place, OR
    c) go broke resisting what’s probably going to happen anyway unless Catholics get off their lazy rear ends and do their part to prevent it.

    You’re putting your scorn into the wrong vehicle, folks. Aim all that derision at the Obama administration, where it belongs, and put Obama out of office in November. This is the first step to really fixing this mess, rather than knocking Franciscan around like a hapless little brother because you know you can. Fix the problem, don’t just whine about it and blame others.

  17. Facta Non Verba says:

    I second what Catholicmidwest says and I would add that we need a US Senate also that is willing and able to pass the bills to undo this “march to socialism.” Keep that in mind when voting this fall.

  18. Son of Trypho says:

    Second Catholicmidwest’s appeal re. St Teresa Benedicta comparison.

    However, in Dantaesque imagery, (and Heaven forbid it comes to pass), one could see the good sister in the Inferno sitting there desperately trying to relinquish the pen from her hand (and always failing) that caused her predicament.

  19. Centristian says:


    Steubenville has filed a lawsuit, hasn’t it?

  20. Lurker 59 says:


    The problem is that what FUS has done acts to further the agenda of the Administration. As a FUS alumni, I would say that yes they need to be called on this and have it pointed out that if the hang-up with Obamacare is that the health insurance aspect of the law forces the coverage of contraception and abortion, it does not protect the vulnerable poor to drop them from your moral health insurance plans thereby forcing them, due to the law and their lack of means, onto Obamacare.

    It is like what Moro brought up. If the goal in Massachusetts was for Catholic Charities to protect Timmy from being adopted by homosexuals, shutting down Catholic adoption agencies insures that Timmy can be adopted by homosexuals. FUS is insuring that those that it stops covering will be entangled within Obamacare and the HHS mandate.

    As for FUS being a battering ram, well I cannot be a battering ram, nor can a thousand me’s. However, Catholic institutions, especially when joined in common cause, can be that battering ram, or better yet a shield. The principal of solidarity (especially solidarity with the poor) demands that Catholic institutions stand between a government’s unjust laws and the laity, especially the vulnerable poor whether they are Catholic or not.

    Let me also say that FUS is going to shield its employees from this unjust law and refuse to comply on behalf of the employees and provide for them a moral heath insurance plan. To shield the employees but not the students, is also what the government thinks should happen. Their view is that religious exemptions / conscience clauses should apply only to the employees of religious institutions (or better yet only clergy) not those served by the institutions. FUS is acting as if they agree. FUS employees get to have moral health insurance but students don’t? Is that a just action for FUS to take?

    Kicking Obama out of office is not going to solve the problem because Romney is in favor of Obamacare so long as it is at the state level not federal level. If one listens to his rhetoric, especially during the debates, it is a state vs. federal issue for him, not that the mechanics of Obamacare is actually wrong.

  21. Facta Non Verba says:

    With respect to Romney’s view (state vs. federal issue), please give consideration to the advantages of federalism. What is good for Massachussets isn’t necessarily what is good for Texas, for example. Each state is its own laboratory, and good ideas will make some states more successful than others. If we don’t like what our state is doing, the beauty is that we have the freedom to vote with our feet and move to a different state. One problem with nationalizing laws (as opposed to leaving them with each state) is that our only recourse is the ballot box, or maybe the federal courts in those cases where the federal government exceeded its limited powers provided in the Constitution (such as overstepping the boundaries of regulating interstate commerce). We don’t have the option of voting with our feet when laws are nationalized.

  22. Lurker 59 says:

    Facta Non Verba,

    Not everyone can easily move from state to state, so “voting with one’s feet” sounds good but is highly impractical. If it was, we’d all be living in states with no sales tax. However, the problem with Obamacare is not that it is a Federal plan rather than a State plan (Romney’s position) but the mechanics itself are wrong. Destroying the free market is still destroying the free market whether it is done at the federal level or state level.

  23. Cathy says:

    I’m a simple minded person. I have to ask, is it possible to pull back and ask the question, while all of this is about individuals buying insurance, are hospitals and doctors forced to accept insurance money? I ask this because, not only does Obamacare force the individual onto the insurance farm, it also has precedence in mandating electronic record keeping of the person’s medical records. Instead of a doctor/patient relationship, medicine has morphed into a government/insurance company/doctor/patient relationship, with government at the top of the heap. How does the Catholic Hospital figure into the equation with a government that hates God, insurance companies that must have profits, doctors who may love their capacity to heal – or may love money, and the individual at the bottom of the heap – the patient. As opposed to shutting them down, as some bishops have suggested, is it possible to maintain our Catholic hospitals by simply shutting out the government and the insurance companies? In doing so, could we possibly restore our medical institutions and those who provide care within them, to answer first to Christ and His Church?

  24. Supertradmum says:

    Cathy, if one is wealthy enough, one can pay cash. That happens in some countries. For example, as a visitor in England. I have to pay all my doctor bills, prescriptions etc. of course. I am not covered by the NHS, so I am private. Same when I was in Malta and Ireland, which have their own government plans, but people can opt out. There are private hospitals here which only take cash or private insurances outside the NHS. Obamacare is even more drastic than the NHS here, as one is not forced to buy insurance from the government.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    Cathy, the doctors in my home town in Iowa have a charity to which they give large amounts for the poor. Same was true in my town in Missouri where I lived for several years. Many people pay nothing for serious operations. Same in Peoria, Ill, where the hospitals will never turn away a baby in need. There are many good doctors.

  26. jhayes says:

    Franciscan University appears to be the first casualty of the new Obama HHS mandate that requires Catholic colleges, groups and businesses to pay for drugs that may cause abortions and birth control for their employees.

    For Franciscan, the mandate to provide contraception coverage under the student plan doesn’t come into effect until August of 2013. That doesn’t seem to be the reason for cutting off student health insurance this year.

    For employees, Franciscan says its existing plan is “grandfathered” and they are exempt from the requirement to provide coverage for contraceptive services.

    See: http://www.franciscan.edu/imagebase/hr/pdf/Highmark%20Benefit%20Booklet%20-%20Buy-Up%20Plan.pdf (see page 5)

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