CHICAGO (CNS) – The University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., must provide free coverage of contraceptives as required by the federal health care law despite its moral objections to doing so, said a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling that denied the university an injunction against enforcement of the mandate.
The decision was handed down in the university’s appeal of a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana denying it a preliminary injunction. Notre Dame then sought to obtain emergency relief from the 7th Circuit before the Jan. 1 deadline for the mandate to take effect and was denied.
In its lawsuit, Notre Dame argued that the mandate’s purpose “is to discriminate against religious institutions and organizations that oppose abortion and contraception.”
Judge Richard Posner, joined by Judge David Hamilton, wrote the majority opinion in the 2-1 ruling, saying the university has the option of following a so-called accommodation in the mandate that says employers who object to the coverage on moral grounds can fill out a form and direct a third party to provide the coverage to their employees.
In a brief statement, Notre Dame spokesman Paul J. Browne said: “Our concern remains that if government is allowed to entangle a religious institution of higher education like Notre Dame in one area contrary to conscience, it’s given license to do so in others.”
Notre Dame and other Catholic entities that have brought dozens of lawsuits challenging the mandate on moral grounds say this third-party accommodation still does not solve their problem over being involved in providing coverage they reject for moral reasons.