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Duly Noted

Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012, 3:44 pm

Nice Insurance You Got There, Be A Shame if Anything Happened to It

By Lindsay Beyerstein

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Dark clouds over the monastery at Belmont Abbey College.   Carolinadoug, Creative Commons.

William Thierfelder, president of the private, Catholic, Belmont Abbey College, is scheduled to testify before Congress tomorrow about why Obama's compromise to provide free birth control to employees of religiously-affiliated universities and hospitals is a violation of religious freedom.

Thierfelder's goal was to repeat the words "religious freedom" as many times as possible in his interview with Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post in the hopes that readers would confuse repeated assertion with cogent argument. But the real bombshell that Kliff elicited from Thierfelder was a veiled threat:

[KLIFF] Let’s say we get to a point where your lawsuit isn’t successful and Congress doesn’t overturn this provision. What will you do then? Will Belmont Abbey comply with the mandate, drop insurance coverage or seek another option?

[THIERFELDER] We have to see what does come about. We want to take the least hurtful option for our employees and students. We obviously want to provide insurance coverage to our employees. It would be incredibly unfortunate if that wasn’t an alternative. This principle is so strong with us, it’s not really a compromising sort of thing. We can’t give in on this. So I don’t really know what happens. [Emphasis added.]

Let me get this straight: Belmont Abbey College would eliminate health insurance for all of its employees rather than allow them to accept free birth control through their insurer.

Belmont Abbey College would leave its own employees uninsured for everything from prenatal care to cancer just to make double-plus-sure that BAC isn't tainted by the contraception cooties. How pro-life!

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (, a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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