Geneva College Sues Federal Government Over Birth Control Coverage

Plan B Geneva College, in Pennsylvania, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government. The lawsuit is another one that is in opposition to the requirement that employers offer coverage for birth control in their employer sponsored health insurance. It is unlikely to be the last lawsuit on this issue.

Geneva College is a Christian college that is located in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1848 by the Reformed Presbyterian Church. The college, together with attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund, (which is a Christian civil rights group), has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh. The lawsuit is against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and also against the U.S. Department of Labor and Treasury.

The college wants two things to happen as a result of this lawsuit. They want a judge to rule that the regulations that require employers to cover birth control in their employer sponsored health plans violates the rights of Geneva College, and the rights of other faith-based or church -related groups.

The college also wants a judge to order that the school is exempt from complying with the birth control mandate that is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The college, and the Alliance Defense Fund attorneys, feel that this law violates the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment. They also feel that the law violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

On the other side of the lawsuit, the Department of Health and Human Services has released a 23 page document that defends these regulations. Part of that document states:

“The Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion is not violated by a law that is not specifically targeted at religiously motivated conduct and that applies equally to conduct without regard to whether is is religiously motivated – a so called neutral law of general applicability”.

Recently, the Obama administration announced what has been called a “compromise”. This allowed religious businesses to be exempt from paying for the coverage of birth control in their employer sponsored health insurance plans. Instead, their insurance companies will have to cover the cost of birth control. The Obama administration feels that the religious businesses would not be harmed by the requirement that insurers cover the cost of contraceptives.

It is worth noting that the Obama administration says that the regulations are fair and legal because they are being applied to all companies and agencies that have 50 or more workers. The law does not target any specific religious group. It is also worth noting that the lawyers for the College feel that the “compromise” made by the Obama administration is “entirely fictitious”.

Image by °Florian on Flickr

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About Jen Thorpe

I have a B.S. in Education and am a former teacher and day care worker. I started working as a freelance writer in 2010 and have written for many topics here at Families.com.