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Appeals Court: Notre Dame Must Cover Contraception

An appeals court in Chicago ruled against Notre Dame regarding the Affordable Care Act's requirement to provide contraception to employees and students.

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Photo: Kymberly Janisch (Flickr)

The contraceptives mandate has been particularly controversial in South Bend, Ind., the home of the University of Notre Dame.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday ruled against a Notre Dame lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the contraception requirement of the Affordable Care Act.

Notre Dame claimed providing contraception to employees and students went against its religious beliefs, but the court ruled 2-1 against Notre Dame.

While the lawsuit was moving through the courts, the university’s insurance providers, Aetna and Meritain, notified employees and students that contraception was available through their health coverage plans, so as to avoid severe penalties. So as of right now, Notre Dame is covering contraception under its health plan, and Judge Richard Posner writes in the opinion:

We imagine that what the university wants is an order forbidding Aetna and Meritain to provide any contraceptive coverage to Notre Dame staff or students pending final judgment in the district court. But we can’t issue such an order; neither Aetna nor Meritain is a defendant (the university’s failure to join them as defendants puzzles us), so unless and until they are joined as defendants they can’t be ordered by the district court or by this court to do anything.

Furthermore, while a religious institution has a broad immunity from being required to engage in acts that violate the tenets of its faith, it has no right to prevent other institutions, whether the government or a health insurance company, from engaging in acts that merely of ‐ fend the institution.

The Notre Dame lawsuit is one of several filed by religious schools, businesses and non-profits over the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act.

Claire McInerny

Claire McInerny is an education reporter for StateImpact Indiana. She comes to WFIU/WTIU from KCUR in Kansas City. She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Kansas where she discovered her passion for public media and the stories it tells. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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