Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently filed a legal motion in a federal court attempting to force the University of Notre Dame to provide insurance coverage of abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures, according to the radical group’s website.
Americans United claims to be intervening on behalf of three nameless Notre Dame students who want their health-care plan to include contraceptives.
“In all of the talk about the so-called religious liberty rights of Notre Dame, something has been overlooked: the women who would be hurt,” said Americans United executive director Rev. Barry Lynn. “The University’s leaders are free to preach against birth control, but they shouldn’t have the right to deny necessary medication to anyone.”
Notre Dame re-filed its lawsuit against the HHS mandate early in December. Although a federal court refused to grant relief from the requirements of the federal mandate before it went into effect on January 1st, the University’s lawsuit continues. Notre Dame announced last week that it would comply with the mandate until the legal dispute was settled.
The University named after Our Lady continues to assert that the mandate is an infringement of religious freedom.
But Americans United stated in its motion, “Even if the University’s religious exercise were substantially burdened by the challenged regulations, there is a compelling interest for the imposition of that burden, namely, providing the affected women with access to contraception and the consequent control over their sexual lives, bodily integrity, and reproductive capacity.”
Notre Dame Professor of Law Richard Garnett writes at his blog Mirror of Justice that he believes the motion is a publicity attempt in order to drum up fundraising.
He does not agree that, simply because Notre Dame is a large employer in the area, the University’s right to refuse to provide coverage for contraceptives should be limited. He adds,“With respect to students, though, it is harder for me to see why Notre Dame should not be able to say to prospective students (as Notre Dame does), ‘This is who we are. If you come here – and you are welcome to, but you don’t have to – you should know that our character, mission, aspirations, and values will shape the terms of our arrangement with you.’”
Americans United filed its motion with the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana, South Bend Division.
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