Religious Employers May Not Be Able to Rob You of Your Birth Control in the End

Back in October, when the president signed the birth control decree , we thought – and he probably thought – that this would allow religious employers to deny their employees the use of contraception. Notre Dame thought so too. But it looks like we were all wrong.

It seems like it went like this. Notre Dame is a Catholic university that is of the opinion that birth control is bad and bad. (Religions are weird, okay?) Federal law – the ACA – requires insurance plans to cover birth control without additional out-of-pocket expenses. But Notre Dame said that we do not want to provide our employees with contraception.

During the Obama administration, the federal government said, “Okay, we’ll pay for contraception” – all religious employers have to do is apply for a waiver, stating that they are not going to pay for it. The government will step in and take responsibility .

But some employers said that even filing that waiver – which Notre Dame did – was still wrong, because it had provided contraceptives to employees. The case went to the Supreme Court but was not resolved . Then the executive order seemed to end the controversy: employers could choose not to pay for birth control insurance, and their employees wouldn’t get contraception, that’s all. Notre Dame sent out a 60-day notice letter to its staff and students to end the birth control.


Aetna, which provides insurance to Notre Dame, has not changed its plans. They just pay the bill themselves.

I asked Aetna if the reason they cover the costs is to comply with the law, which might possibly require them to still cover their birth control for free, or because it’s no surprise that if you pay maternity services, birth control is declining. the number of births you have to pay for. The representative told me that he would not answer questions about their arrangement with Notre Dame. (Notre Dame did not return my calls.)

In any case, the university cannot do anything about it. A Notre Dame spokesperson told the South Bend Tribune that following the decree, “we believed that insurance companies would stop free coverage … We have since been advised that [our insurance company] will continue such coverage indefinitely.”

The statement also said the university “will not interfere” with the insurance company’s insurance, although it is unclear if they can do so in any way. So it is entirely possible that – depending on your insurance company – the decree does not give religious employers the power they thought it would give.


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