The University of Notre Dame will stop providing birth control coverage to students and employees at the end of the plan year, making it one of the targets of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Contraceptive coverage is required under the Affordable Care Act. Although religious institutions are exempt, the health care law still requires religiously-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities to provide coverage, albeit with some accommodations.
Previously, Notre Dame made the coverage available through a third party service separate from the rest of its health insurance and attempted to sue for the right to not offer the coverage at all. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2015 the university had to comply with the mandate.
A recent decision by the Trump administration allows those with religious or moral objections to opt-out of providing birth control coverage. This allowed Notre Dame to completely drop the coverage.
Notre Dame sent letters to students and employees on Friday outlining the changes.
The ACLU filed suit against the Trump administration over the decision. One of the named plaintiffs is a Notre Dame law student.
“The Trump Administration Policy allows Notre Dame to declare a wholesale exemption and to not even allow their insurance company to provide the coverage, so we anticipated that Notre Dame would be revoking contraception coverage if given the opportunity,” says Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with ACLU’s reproductive freedom project.
Amiri says even though the university will still provide contraceptives as a treatment for other medical problems, it is still an infringement on a woman’s rights.
“No matter where a woman works or goes to school she should have coverage for basic health care services like contraceptives regardless of the purpose used for the contraception,” she says.
Birth control coverage for Notre Dame faculty and staff ends December 31. For students the coverage ends August 14, 2018.
The University of Notre Dame declined to comment for this story.