January 2, 2014 (CNS) – Fewer than five years after President Barack Obama spoke at a University of Notre Dame commencement ceremony, promising “a sensible conscience clause” in the nation’s health care policies, the University has been denied its bid for a temporary stay on the HHS mandate requiring employee coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization procedures.
Last week, a federal judge denied the University’s request for relief from the Obama administration’s mandate. Then on December 31, a panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied Notre Dame’s emergency motion for a stay, pending an appeal.
If the University fails to comply with the HHS mandate, it will face crippling fines of up to $100 per day per employee. But Notre Dame has decided to accept the Obama administration’s “accommodation,” which ensures employees the offensive coverage over the University’s objection.
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“Having been denied a stay, Notre Dame is advising employees that pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, our third party administrator is required to notify plan participants of coverage provided under its contraceptives payment program,” said Paul Browne, Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications, according to WNDU. “As part of an ongoing legal action, however, the program may be terminated once the university's lawsuit on religious liberty grounds against the HHS mandate has worked its way through the courts.”
The University’s situation seems far less optimistic than on that bright day in 2009, when President Obama called for “open hearts, open minds, and fair-minded words.”
He said, “Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
Reprinted with permission from Catholic Education Daily.