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Notre Dame strips birth control coverage from employee health plans — then reverses course

A general view of the 'Golden Dome' on the campus of Notre Dame is seen on October 19, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, has reversed its decision to end contraceptive coverage in its employee health care plans, according to the South Bend Tribune.

What happened?

According to the Associated Press, last week, Notre Dame told its faculty that their no-cost birth control coverage would end Jan. 1. The announcement followed a decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to allow employers with religious objections to contraceptives to be exempt from a provision of Obamacare requiring their coverage.

The so-called “HHS mandate” had only narrow exemptions for churches and houses of worship. The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns who care for the elderly poor, among other faith-based organizations, sued the Obama administration seeking an exemption from the mandate. Catholic Church teaching forbids the use of artificial contraceptives.

The decision by Notre Dame — a Catholic university — made national news after some students and staff objected.

What did Notre Dame say?

Notre Dame reversed course Tuesday, telling students and staff that they will continue to receive no-cost birth control coverage.

In a statement to the South Bend Tribune, Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne said that after the Trump administration announced broader exemptions to the rule “we believed that insurance companies would discontinue no cost coverage for contraceptives for employees at the end of the year.”

“Since then, we have been informed that Meritain Health/OptumRx will continue such coverage indefinitely,” Browne said. “Notre Dame, as a Catholic institution, follows Catholic teaching about the use of contraceptives and engaged in the recent lawsuit to protect its freedom to act in accord with its principles. Recognizing, however, the plurality of religious and other convictions among its employees, it will not interfere with the provision of contraceptives that will be administered and funded independently of the university."

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