One of the oldest Roman Catholic colleges in the U.S., Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, has stood up against President Barack Obama's birth-control policy by saying it will cut off contraceptive coverage to its employees by July.
The move comes as thousands across the U.S. are still holding rallies and protesting against Obama's policy that wants to force religious institutions to provide insurance that covers contraceptive costs.
Abortion and artificial birth control methods are prohibited by the Roman Catholic Church, who want to preserve pro-life ideals. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the highest ranking Catholic bishop in America, recently said on Bill O Reilly's Fox show "The Factor" that the Church has no plans of backing down from its pro-life position, which he calls a matter of freedom of religion.
Xavier University, a Jesuit institution founded in 1831, seems to be following in the same spirit, though its decision to cut off birth-control benefits has divided its 7,000 students and its 935 employees, Reuters has reported. Xavier President Michael Graham announced the decision citing that birth control coverage will end on July 1.
Some who agree with Obama's policy have complained that the end of such benefits will cost them hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses a year.
"It hadn't occurred to me that this would ever be an issue," said Tina Davlin-Pater, an associate professor in the department of sports studies. The athletic trainer, who said that she is not a Catholic, shared that she believes the denial of birth control coverage discriminates against women.
Although Obama's policy has enjoyed some support from women, Penny Nance, who leads Concerned Women for America, told The Christian Post that not all women agree with the plan, and are more supportive of traditional Christian values protecting unborn babies.
"Women are not monolithic in their voting patterns," Nance said. "Married women and Hispanic women tend to favor more conservative values and white, single females under 30 rarely vote. So by and large I think the Republican candidates are in better shape with women voters."
Others have also argued that the Catholic university needs to uphold its Christian values by rejecting Obama's insurance bill.
"That coverage never should have been there in the first place," said Meghan Savercool, a junior majoring in theology.
The birth-control mandate is under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, whose decision on whether to uphold it or not will decide if Obama's bill will become law. If it does, religious institutions will have one year to adapt to the changes and start covering contraception through their insurance plans.
Some Catholic institutions, including Xavier, have already been covering contraceptives without directly being aware of it, but the Obama policy has made them reevaluate their insurance plans, suggested Michael O'Dea, executive director of the Christus Medicus Foundation, which promotes Christian healthcare.
A number of Catholic education experts have praised Xavier's decision and expressed their desire to see other colleges follow suit.
Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, which pushes Catholic colleges to stay true to the Church's teachings, called the decision to stop insurance coverage for birth control "a very positive move."
"The contraception debate has certainly made Catholic colleges more aware, both of what their own (insurance) policies are, and of what the church expects of them," Reilly added.
The Reuters report, however, revealed that there are several other big Catholic U.S. colleges who still allow for birth-control coverage and have not yet announced plans for eliminating them, including Georgetown, DePaul and Fordham universities.