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Wheaton College is latest to sue over Obama birth control rule

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, July 19 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Joggers run through the campus of Wheaton College on Friday, June 20, 2003, in Wheaton, Ill.

Brian Kersey, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WHEATON, Ill. — Wheaton College, a top evangelical school, is joining a raft of lawsuits challenging the Obama administration mandate that most employers offer health insurance that covers birth control.

The college, based in Wheaton, Ill., filed the federal suit Wednesday in the District of Columbia.

Last May, Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, charities and health care agencies filed a dozen federal lawsuits around the country, arguing the requirement violates religious freedom. Among the plaintiffs in those suits are the University of Notre Dame and Catholic University of America.

Health and Human Services adopted the mandate as part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The goal is to improve health care for women and children by allowing women to space their pregnancies.

A religious exemption generally allowed churches and other houses of worship to opt out, but kept the requirement in place for religiously affiliated nonprofits, including hospitals, colleges and charities.

Many religious leaders across faith traditions argued the exemption was far too narrow, and the Obama administration offered to soften the rule. However, the plaintiffs in the lawsuits said the accommodation doesn't go far enough.

The requirement includes all birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including the so-called morning-after pill. The pill has no effect if a woman is already pregnant, but many religious conservatives consider it tantamount to an abortion drug.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit law firm, is representing Wheaton. With the addition of Wheaton, Becket said a total of 24 lawsuits have been filed challenging the mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

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