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Justin Petrisek

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Criticism mounts against Notre Dame’s decision to cover students’ abortifacients

Justin Petrisek

An alumni group and prominent professor are arguing that the University of Notre Dame’s recent decision to renew its student health plan—which provides students with free contraceptives and abortifacients as stipulated in the HHS Mandate—was unnecessary and could undermine its lawsuit against the Mandate regarding the University’s faculty and staff plan, the National Catholic Register reported.

Sycamore Trust, the group of alumni urging faithful Catholic identity at Notre Dame, reported recently that the University renewed its student health insurance program for 2014-15 with an insurer that will be providing coverage in compliance with the HHS Mandate.

The Trust remarked in its bulletin that, “Notre Dame has declared in court that … to do what it is doing now would be scandalous. And it is doing this voluntarily. It could have dropped the program or switched to a self-insured program free of the mandate.”

Voicing a similar objection, Notre Dame law professor Gerry Bradley, who was interviewed by the Register, noted, “The university need not provide student health insurance at all.”

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The report continued:

Bradley noted that only group health plans must comply with the mandate. Consequently, the university also had another option: It could have opted to self-insure the plan for students and avoid coverage of services that violate Catholic teaching.

“Notre Dame could self-insure the students — as they do the faculty and staff — and if they self-insure, they would be free to exclude the contraceptive coverage,” said Bradley.

The Notre Dame law professor was equally concerned about the legal implications of the university’s voluntary decision to provide services it had strongly opposed in legal papers filed with a U.S. district court.

Bradley reportedly said, “In its pending lawsuit about the employee and staff health plan, Notre Dame has said that its Catholic faith forbids it to arrange or facilitate coverage for contraception and abortion.”

“Yet when it comes to student health coverage, the university has chosen to facilitate and arrange coverage for contraception and abortion,” he continued. “The court hearing Notre Dame’s lawsuit will surely notice this inconsistency.”

After The Cardinal Newman Society broke the news in May that Notre Dame elected a supporter of the HHS Mandate to its board of trustees, the Sycamore Trust sent a letter to Notre Dame’s fellows urging them to remove the new trustee from the board.

The Trust warned Notre Dame’s fellows that the University could be the “only Catholic litigant” not exempted from the HHS Mandate because “the courts have concluded it was not sincere in its claim of conscience.”

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.

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