Photo: gbozik photography
A national watchdog group says it’s trying to ensure University of Notre Dame students aren’t left out of the debate over a federal mandate that the university provide free contraceptive coverage to its employees.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a legal motion on behalf of three students Thursday to intervene in the lawsuit Notre Dame has filed against the Affordable Care Act.
Religiously affiliated institutions are exempted from directly supplying employees and students with contraception as a provision of the Affordable Care Act. Instead, the insurance companies they use are required to pick up the tab.
Notre Dame officials are arguing that’s not enough–saying it still violates their religious liberty.
But Gregory Lipper is the senior litigation counsel for Americans United and says by objection to the contraceptives mandate, the university is infringing on the constitutional rights of its students and employees.
“That type of argument is especially dangerous because it basically says ‘My religious beliefs give me an interest in what someone else does with their own body even if I’m not paying for it, even indirectly.”
Americans United says the students it’s representing would lose access to free contraceptive coverage under their university-based health insurance if the court ruled in favor of the university, so the group is asking the courts to let it join the lawsuit on the side of the federal government.
The group is also taking the case a step farther by invoking the establishment clause of the first amendment, which prohibits one party’s religious objections from imposing significant burdens on third parties.
Notre Dame spokesperson Dennis Brown refused to be recorded for radio but said in a statement that the University has stated their position on religious liberty grounds and will await the court’s ruling.