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Contraception now available to ND employees

| Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Notre Dame employees may now receive contraceptive coverage through the University’s third-party insurance administrator as of Jan. 1, in compliance with a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.

Nevertheless, the University is continuing its legal action against the mandate, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, with the hope of ending that coverage.

1_HHS_Timeline_UpdatedEmily Hoffman

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied Notre Dame’s third request for relief from the mandate, which required nonprofit religious organizations to start to provide contraceptive services on New Year’s Day.

Paul Browne, the University’s vice president for public affairs and communications, said Jan. 2 that Notre Dame advised its employees that its third-party administrator would cover contraceptives.

“As part of an ongoing legal action, however, the program may be terminated once the University’s lawsuit on religious liberty grounds against the HHS mandate has worked its way through the courts,” Browne said.

Hours before the mandate was set to take effect, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily blocked enforcement of the mandate against an order of nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and certain other Catholic nonprofit groups, according to The New York Times.

A substantive ruling on the Little Sisters case is pending, but Browne said without a ruling by the full Supreme Court, Sotomayor’s order applies only to that particular case and not to Notre Dame.

Browne said if Sotomayor rules in favor of the Little Sisters, Notre Dame might ask the Seventh Circuit to reconsider the University’s case. If she rules against the Little Sisters, Browne said, Notre Dame will continue its appeal as planned.

Junior Mark Gianfalla, president of Notre Dame College Republicans, said his club supported the University’s lawsuit against the HHS mandate.

“The College Republicans believe that Notre Dame’s lawsuit had standing and was a valiant effort by the University to thwart an unconstitutional encroachment of government into the arena of religious liberties,” Gianfalla said.

The president of Notre Dame Right to Life, junior Erin Stoyell-Mulholland, said her club also stood behind the University’s litigation.

“Women deserve better than abortion-inducing drugs and contraception,” she said.

Junior Sean Long, co-president of College Democrats of Notre Dame, said formulating an official stance on the HHS mandate is one of his club’s priorities this semester.

“We are currently organizing an issue briefing that presents both sides of the argument, and we will hold an inclusive conversation with many Democratic voices at Notre Dame,” Long said. “We hope to emerge with a clear articulation of Notre Dame College Democrats’ stance on the issue that takes into account the diverse voices of our Democratic community.”

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Assistant Managing Editor. American Studies major. Ice cream addict.

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