A federal appeals court has ruled that three anonymous University of Notre Dame students, represented by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, can intervene in the University’s lawsuit seeking relief from the HHS mandate, according to the Associated Press.
The ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago was issued late Tuesday.
The motion brought by the students—known as Jane Doe 1, 2, and 3—argues that the University of Notre Dame should be forced to provide insurance coverage of abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilization procedures in its student health plan.
Ayesha Khan, the legal director of Americans United, said the three young women are anonymous because they could be "ostracized" if their identities were made public. "They are the people who would be impacted by Notre Dame getting out of the Affordable Care Act regulation,” she reportedly said.
But the AP cites University spokesman Paul Browne responding, "If government is allowed to entangle a religious institution in one area contrary to conscience, it's given license to do so in others.”
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 early this month that it would comply with the mandate until the legal dispute was settled.
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