In a 2-1 ruling on Friday, the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals for Chicago denied the University of Notre Dame’s request for immediate relief from complying with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraception mandate, upholding a lower court’s ruling.

The Roman Catholic university filed a lawsuit in May 2012  against the Department of Health and Human Services, claiming that complying with the ACA’s contraception mandate would violate its religious beliefs. The government actually exempts religious employers from having to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees; they must only fill out a simple certification that such coverage would violate their religious principles, and a third party administrator will cover the contraceptives instead.

“If the government is entitled to require that female contraceptives be provided to women free of charge, we have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame’s authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to ‘trigger’ the provision of female contraceptives,” Judge Richard Posner wrote in an opinion. The court also found that the university had not shown that compliance created a substantial burden.

The Affordable Care Act has made it much easier for women to get affordable, quality health care coverage that fits their needs. It guarantees that plans cover FDA-approved contraceptives without co-pays or deductibles, cancer screenings, domestic violence counseling, and well women exams, as well as maternal care, mental health care, and pediatric services – among many others. It also does not allow insurance policies to charge women more simply because of their gender.

TAKE ACTION: Over 40 profit-making companies have tried to prevent women from accessing free contraceptives by filing lawsuits, and some have made their way to the Supreme Court. Tell the Supreme Court: My Body, My BC!

Media Resources: Chicago Tribune 2/21/14; Politico 2/21/14; Associated Press 2/22/14; Feminist Newswire 5/22/14, 1/6/14, 1/14/14

 

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