Xavier University, one of the oldest Roman Catholic colleges in the United States, will cut off birth-control coverage for its employees in July.
The cancellation of insurance benefits at the Jesuit university comes amid a dispute between the Obama administration and Catholic bishops over contraception.
The administration has mandated that health-insurance plans offer free birth control by this summer, with accommodations for religious institutions that oppose contraception on moral grounds.
The controversy prompted Xavier President Michael Graham, a Jesuit priest, to review the health-insurance plan offered to the university’s 935 employees. Pres. Graham announced this week that the plan will end to cover contraception on July 1.
Some faculty members said they were surprised and upset at the sudden end to benefits, which could raise out-of-pocket costs for contraception by hundreds of dollars a year.
The mandate that sparked the Xavier move is part of an Obama administration push to give access to a variety of preventive services, from mammograms to vaccinations. The birth-control mandate is tied to President Obama’s 2010 health-care law now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Catholic church considers artificial contraception a sin, and the bishops have protested the inclusion of contraception as a mandatory benefit.
An overwhelming majority of Catholic women of reproductive age have used contraception at some point, despite the church’s teaching.
Dorothy Engle, chairwoman of the biology department, many colleagues found the timing suspect. “It seems unusual to change the health-care plan in the middle of the year,” and not wait until the open-enrollment period when employees could sign on to a spouse’s plan or look for other coverage, she said.
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