ETBU files lawsuit disputing insurance coverage of emergency contraceptives

Published: Oct. 9, 2012 at 11:31 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 10, 2012 at 2:54 AM CDT
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MARSHALL, TX (KLTV) - Two Baptist universities in Texas are teaming up and filing a lawsuit against the federal government, and one of those schools is right here in East Texas.

East Texas Baptist University is fighting the healthcare mandate that will require the school to provide emergency contraceptives under their employee insurance plan.

In a thirty-five-page lawsuit, East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University are taking a stand against a rule handed down by the Department of Health and Human Services.

"It says that we have to provide contraceptives, including emergency contraceptives to our employees at no charge," says East Texas Baptist University President Dub Oliver.

Those contraceptives are Plan B, the morning after pill, and Ella, known as the week after pill.

Oliver says ETBU considers these drugs abortifacients, or abortion inducing.

"Even the government says that those drugs can interfere with a fertilized embryo, and again, we believe that life begins at conception," he says.

If the courts do not side with the universities who brought forth the lawsuit, East Texas Baptist University will likely be faced with the decision of weather or not to cut their healthcare program altogether. Oliver says the university will not offer their employees emergency contraceptives because it's simply against their religious beliefs.

"It is hard because health insurance is important. It's what we need, so it's a hard position to be in. It's definitely [a decision] where you go and pray about what is best and you pray for strength and guidance, and you pray for the government... that they'll make the right decision," says ETBU Admissions Counselor Megan Cumbee.

Cumbee says she supports the school's decision to file the lawsuit.

Back in February, Oliver testified before congress about the university's stance on emergency contraceptives.

"We really have tried to address this in a number of different avenues, to no avail, so this lawsuit is really a way for us to try to address this... to get relief and to have the first amendment guaranteed to us as it should be," he says.

If East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University are granted injunctive relief, then their win applies to everybody in the United States 5th Circuit. That would mean religious institutions in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas would be protected.

If the courts do not side with the universities, and ETBU opts to drop their healthcare plan, they'll be fined up to $10 Million per year.

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