No more birth control coverage at this US uni
School ends birth control coverage. Source: Shutterstock.

That’s what the University of Notre Dame announced yesterday, one of the first major organisation to do so following the Trump administration’s decision to rollback contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

From next year on, the Catholic university will stop providing birth control coverage, unless it is for a medical condition under its health insurance plan, Los Angeles Times reported. Students are slamming the cut, which was done without consulting them or involving them in the decision-making process.

One student described the removal as “insane” – her chosen birth control, a NuvaRing costs US$200 a month, that’s the same as how much she makes in her on-campus job.

“It’s going to become a matter of, ‘Do I want to pay for groceries this month or do I want to afford my birth control prescription?,” Emily Garrett told Refinery29.

“I felt like we had been going on the right direction in campus,” she said. “And then, to have the university come out and say they won’t cover contraception is a regressive standpoint on women’s healthcare.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, the university had offered contraceptives via a third-party system for religious employers implemented by the Obama administration.

It had tried to sue so that it would not have to provide birth control at all but the court ruled it had to comply with the act.

However, with the recent rollback by the Trump administrations – i.e. those who had religious or moral objections to the mandate can opt-out from providing contraception coverage – Notre Dame could then cut birth control from its health insurance plan.

“Notre Dame students just had their access to birth control coverage yanked away, without their consent and with no recourse. Birth control is basic health care and should not be up for debate — not on campuses and not in boardrooms,” Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America told Refinery29 in an email statement.

“Students and employees deserve an administration that stands behind them and makes it easier for them to access health care, including the full range of contraception. Instead, this administration seems determined to wage a full-out war on a woman’s ability to decide if and when they want to become pregnant.”

About 3,000 students and 5,800 employees are covered by the university’s health plan, Vox reported. The birth control coverage for the school’s faculty and staff will end on December 31, whereas for students it will stop on 14 August 2018.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against Notre Dame over their decision – a law student from the school is one of the plaintiffs.

Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with ACLU’s reproductive freedom project calls this cut an infringement on women’s rights.

“No matter where a woman works or goes to school she should have coverage for basic health care services like contraceptives regardless of the purpose used for the contraception,” Amiri said, as quoted by Indiana Public Media.

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