Wheaton College Cancels Students’ Health Insurance To Avoid Providing Access To Birth Control
Every day I am thankful that I went to a college that was not afraid of contraception or women’s health. My school had its problems, a lot of them, but a lack of access to contraception was not one of them. There were inexpensive condoms in the vending machines in all the dorms and virtually every building on campus, all sorts of condoms for sale in the school convenience store, and a big candy bowl of free condoms at the health center. Birth control pills were only $12 a year, and by the time I was a senior they were free. The school seemed to assume we were all having sex–and we were, because we were young adults at college–and went to a lot of trouble to make sure none of us got pregnant by accident. I appreciate that they were looking out for us and our futures like that.
Unfortunately for the students of Wheaton College in suburban Chicago, the school wants so badly to avoid providing birth control coverage as mandated by the Affordable Care Act that it has just gone straight out and stopped offering health insurance to its students at all.
According to The Associated Press, Wheaton College’s decision to do away with student health insurance is an attempt to protect a lawsuit it has filed against the Department of Health and Human Services. Wheaton College is an evangelical Protestant university, and according to student development vice president Paul Chelsen, it finds birth control “morally objectionable.”
Wheaton College doesn’t even actually have to provide birth control, which its religious beliefs find so objectionable. All it has to do, if it wants to not provide birth control, is notify the government that it has religious objections to birth control. Then the school’s insurance provider would provide such coverage directly to students. Wheaton does not want to do that, because apparently filing paperwork saying that birth control is against their religious beliefs is also against their religious beliefs.
“What has brought us here is about student health insurance, but it’s bigger than student health insurance,” said Chelsen. “What really breaks my heart is that there are real people that are affected by our decision. But if we don’t win this case, the implications down the road in terms of what the government will tell us what we can and cannot do will be potentially more significant.”
Wheaton’s 3,000 students are eligible to sign up for health insurance through the healthcare marketplace exchange, but they must sign up within 60 days of their previous coverage ending.
(Photo: Wheaton College)