Ruth Graham reports that some of the faculty at Wheaton College have problems with the college’s opposition to Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Obamacare requires Christian schools like Wheaton to provide insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs. Wheaton has sued the government (like many other institutions in their position) to get relief from Obamacare’s infringement upon religious liberty. Nevertheless, Graham reports that some of the faculty are opposed to the lawsuit. She writes:
Some employees are still frustrated: If emergency contraception incontrovertibly causes abortions, then can’t employees be trusted to use their own moral judgment to avoid it? “There’s a demonstrated lack of confidence in their female employees, and that is really demeaning,” [Leah Seppanen] Anderson said.
The shakiness of Wheaton’s scientific position is compounded by the fact that there is far less moral agreement in the evangelical community about emergency contraception than there is about abortion, which most evangelicals fiercely oppose. Near the end of the summer, a frustrated Anderson met with about a dozen female faculty members to discuss the issue.
“There’s this external, out-facing argument to the federal government that ‘we believe these to be abortifacients, and this is part of our core religious identity,'” she said. “As an insider at Wheaton, I feel like we have not had that conversation.” She and most of the women she spoke with agreed that in their own lives, they would probably err on the side of not using emergency contraception. But Anderson said she’s simply not comfortable with the college making that decision for her, let alone presenting it to the world as a definitive evangelical value. “It seems like people at best aren’t sure, so why are we drawing the line on the sand on this issue?”
This is an interesting argument. Anderson says that she personally would err on the side of caution and avoid emergency contraception. Nevertheless, she says that Wheaton College should not have a right to err on the side of caution. In essence, she’s agreeing with the Obama administration that Wheaton should be forced to pay for insurance that includes abortion-inducing drugs. Why should the government have the right to trample the consciences of Wheaton College? If Anderson has an answer to that question, it doesn’t appear in the report.
But there is also a more fundamental misunderstanding here. When it comes to abortifacient birth control devices, Wheaton College is not “making that decision for her” (to use her words). She and every other employee of Wheaton are free to use any of the FDA approved birth control devices—even the ones that are potentially abortifacient. This is not a debate about whether employees should be able to purchase those devices. It’s a debate about whether the United States government has the right to force Wheaton to pay for them. I guess Dr. Anderson thinks the government has that right. I think the framers of the First Amendment would disagree.