has joined about 50 mostly Roman Catholic religious institutions suing the Obama administration for requiring religious employers to offer health insurance that covers the cost of
for employees and students.
Today the west suburban college joined a lawsuit filed by Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., making it one of a handful of evangelical Protestant institutions opposed to the requirement that employers provide insurance plans that include contraception for women at no cost.
Under the rules announced in January, religiously affiliated organizations such as schools, charities and hospitals would not be exempt from providing care that includes FDA-approved contraception and sterilization procedures.
Wheaton College President Philip Ryken said since last September he has appealed to the
for an exemption from the mandate. When the
's health care ruling didn't resolve the issue, he said the college's board of trustees chose to take legal action.
Unlike Catholic church teaching, evangelical doctrine is not opposed to contraceptives. But evangelicals do oppose prescription drugs such as morning-after pills that they believe cause abortions.
"We have a conviction we should not be providing abortion services," he said. "We have a moral conviction we should be not be coerced."
Ryken said freshmen would be arriving to Wheaton in about two weeks. It's unclear if the conflict regarding the mandate will preclude faculty, staff and students from receiving health care coverage.
"It's my hope to be able to continue to provide it," Ryken said.
In May, the Roman Catholic dioceses of Springfield and Joliet joined 41 other religious institutions filing simultaneous lawsuits.
All of the lawsuits accuse the U.S. Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services and their respective secretaries —
— of violating the Catholic Church's religious liberty by defining what qualifies as a religious institution and excluding schools, hospitals and charities from that definition.
Ryken said making such distinctions creates two classes of religious institutions: Those that enjoy full religious freedom and those who don't.
On Tuesday, a Nebraska federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by seven states — Nebraska, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas — and a few Nebraska-based religious employers, noting that the Obama administration has agreed to work with religious groups to try to address their concerns.
Kyle Duncan, a lawyer for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty representing Wheaton College, said no accommodation has been made, only promised.