Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Illinois, asked a Washington, D.C. federal court on Wednesday for an emergency injunction against the Obama administration's contraception coverage mandate because the rule forces the school to cover emergency contraception, which it believes causes abortions, or pay immediate fines.
But Wheaton's health plan already covered emergency contraception when the mandate was announced, a spokesperson for its legal team told The Huffington Post, and tried to scramble to get rid of that coverage in order to qualify for the one-year reprieve President Barack Obama put in place for religious institutions that have moral objections to contraception.
"In order to be eligible for the safe harbor, the institution has to certify that it has not covered contraceptives after February 10, 2012," said Emily Hardman, communications director for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Wheaton didn't qualify because "for a short time after February 10, Wheaton's policies inadvertently covered emergency contraceptives. Wheaton was in the process of fixing that error in February, but it was not fixed before the cutoff date."
Wheaton is one of several religious institutions, including Roman Catholic dioceses, schools, charities and health care agencies currently suing the Obama administration over the rule, which went into effect Wednesday.
Hardman did not respond to further questions as to how long the school had covered emergency contraceptives before the mandate was issued, and a spokesperson for Wheaton referred The Huffington Post back to the Becket Fund for comments regarding the school's lawsuit.
Kyle Duncan, general Counsel for the Becket Fund, called emergency contraceptives "abortion-inducing drugs" in a press release and suggested that the school was considering dropping its entire employee health plan over the mandate.
“Everyone knows Wheaton is a school that lives out its faith," Duncan said. "But today our government is telling Wheaton it is not ‘religious enough’ to have a conscience, and so can be forced to participate in abortions or face heavy fines. Wheaton has always provided generous employee benefits, but now the government is forcing it to choose between caring for its employees and honoring its faith.”
99 Problems (JAY-Z)
Eric Fehrnstrom, senior campaign adviser for Mitt Romney, <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/06/03/494238/fehrnstrom-shiny-objects-women/" target="_hplink">said on Sunday</a> that issues pertaining to women's reproductive rights, such as abortion and birth control, were "shiny objects" meant to distract voters from the real issues. "Mitt Romney is pro-life," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "He'll govern as a pro-life president, but you're going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people's attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election."
The Senate will vote Thursday on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and make it illegal for employers to punish women for bringing up pay disparity issues. Dana Perino, a Fox News contributor and former press secretary for President George W. Bush, <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/30/perino-equal-pay-issue-is-a-distraction-for-just-48-hours/" target="_hplink">called the equal pay issue</a> "a distraction" from the country's real financial problems last week. "Well, it's just yet another distraction of dealing with the major financial issues that the country should be dealing with," Perino said. "This is not a job creator."
Just My Imagination (The Temptations)
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose home state's legislature recently defunded Planned Parenthood and voted to pass a bill that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/john-mccain-war-on-women_n_1455591.html" target="_hplink">delivered a floor speech</a> in which he insisted that the war on women is something imaginary for Democrats to "sputter about." "My friends, this supposed 'War on Women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect: The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television," he said.
Butterfly Fly Away (Miley & Billy Ray Cyrus)
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tried to trivialize concerns about the legislative "war on women" by comparing it to a "war on caterpillars." "If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars," Priebus <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-05/priebus-says-gender-battle-as-fictonal-as-caterpillar-war.html" target="_hplink">said in an April interview</a> on Bloomberg Television. "It's a fiction."
Distraction (Angels And Airwaves)
Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman (R) took heat from her opponents in May when she contended that Democratic lawmakers' focus on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was "a distraction" from the issues they should be dealing with instead. "I think it's unfortunate that the Democrats have made a political football out of this thing, which I think is what they keep doing to distract from real problems that are facing our nation," she said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.
We Don't Care (Kanye West)
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) defended the Republican Party in April for going after insurance coverage for contraception by arguing that women don't actually care about contraception. "Women don't care about contraception," she said on ABC's The View. "They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all those other things."