Notre Dame fights mandate for campus contraception coverage

The University of Notre Dame feels a federal mandate that would bring contraceptive coverage to campus is a violation of its religious beliefs.

The issue was the subject of a U.S. District Court hearing in Hammond today, where Notre Dame asked the judge to issue an injunction.

In June, the Obama administration made adjustments to address the concerns of religious organizations but Notre Dame’s opposition persists.

In fact, with the mandate scheduled to take effect on January 1st, the next couple of weeks should bring a flurry of court decisions in cases brought by those who feel their religious rights are being trampled.

The list includes the Fort Wayne/ South Bend Diocese, as well as the University of Notre Dame.

Attorney Matthew Kairis spoke on behalf of Notre Dame at today’s hearing. He said the university’s fear is that letters will soon be sent to females on the school insurance plan—from 10 year old dependents to 70 year old nuns—stating that all are now covered where contraception, abortion drugs, and sterilization is concerned.

Kairis argued that the mandate was a violation of the school’s religious beliefs.

But Attorney Michael Pollack with the U.S. Department of Justice countered that Notre Dame technically wouldn’t be providing contraception coverage: As a religious not-for-profit it would simply let its objections be known. At that point, the burden of providing and paying for the contraception portion of the plan would fall solely on the shoulders of Maritain Health, the university’s third party insurance provider.

Pollack claimed that the government was simply trying to fill a gap in access to contraceptive coverage left by employers with religious objections.

Kairis claimed it was government coercion and he said the university didn’t feel comfortable “paving the way for another to do wrong.”

Kairis also claimed that the contraception care mandate does not apply to some 190 million Americans—or two thirds of the U.S. population—because the mandate does not apply to grandfathered policies and businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

Kairis asked that the judge “take Notre Dame out of it.”

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