Amid questions, Notre Dame insists it won’t pay for employee abortions
SOUTH BEND, Indiana, November 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The University of Notre Dame reversed an apparent decision to allow abortion costs as an allowable reimbursable medical expense under flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in its healthcare coverage for employees.
But the University’s administration has not indicated whether reimbursement for oral contraceptives, contraceptive devices, contraceptive implants, voluntary sterilization or gender reassignment procedures will be included in Notre Dame’s health plans.
Notre Dame had indicated on its website that abortion would become an allowed expense next year.
Since Notre Dame alumni group Sycamore Trust reported on the issue, however, the University website has been updated to now say that abortion would be excluded.
LifeSiteNews inquired with the University prior to the change in language on its website. Paul Browne, vice president for Public Affairs and Communications at the University, said, “Abortion is not and will not be an allowable expense in the medical flexible spending accounts available to Notre Dame employees. The University continues to review our medical benefits and we will update employees as necessary.”
But Notre Dame did not respond when LifeSiteNews followed up by asking whether birth control and sterilization would be reimbursable, if contraception would change from being covered in Notre Dame health plans to become a reimbursable expense, whether abortifacients are currently included in the oral contraception coverage, and if so, if that will continue, whether covered by the University or as a reimbursable expense. We also asked whether gender reassignment procedures would now be considered reimbursable.
Abortion, oral contraceptives, contraceptive devices, contraceptive implants and voluntary sterilization are all listed on the Notre Dame website as ineligible health care expenses.
Previously, the University website had said in regard to ineligible health care expenses for the new year that, “Starting January 1st 2018, IRS guidelines as outlined in Pub 502 will be used to dictate what is a qualified medical or dental expense for flex reimbursement.”
The University statement that the IRS’s Publication 52 would dictate what qualifies for reimbursement indicated that abortion would in fact be reimbursable, because abortion, sterilization and prescription contraceptives are all specifically listed in the IRS document.
The wording now includes the phrase “except for abortion services, which will be excluded” in regard to qualified medical expenses.
The University made headlines earlier this month when it reversed its decision to stop providing no-cost birth control coverage for employees.
The shocking U-turn came after the Trump Administration’s rollback of the controversial Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate, considered a significant religious liberty victory for the Catholic University and others.
Notre Dame had been one of dozens to challenge the ObamaCare Mandate.
The University’s about-face on making birth control available to employees after so many battled for years in court against the Mandate frustrated Catholics and others for its betrayal of Catholic values, and because it potentially jeopardizes future religious liberty cases for other parties.
Sycamore Trust had lamented of the reversal in a subsequent report that “outside the courtroom there are only too many who rejoice over national news of a Notre Dame that looks both hapless and hypocritical.”
Sycamore Trust had also inquired with Notre Dame leadership as well prior to the change on the University website, and did not hear back.
The group’s President William Dempsey told LifeSiteNews in regard to the prospect of Notre Dame rescinding coverage or reimbursement for all things objectionable to the Catholic faith, “Let us pray that it will be so.”