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Notre Dame takes advantage of Trump rule, drops birth control coverage

It's about a month since Trump dramatically altered the ACA's approach to birth control, and at least one major employer is taking advantage.
A general view of the \"Golden Dome\" on the campus of Notre Dame University on October 19, 2013 in South Bend, Ind. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
A general view of the \"Golden Dome\" on the campus of Notre Dame University on October 19, 2013 in South Bend, Ind.

It's about a month since the Trump administration dramatically altered the Affordable Care Act's approach to birth control, opening the door to practically every U.S. employer refusing to cover their workers' contraception. All it takes is showing "sincerely held" religious or moral objections.

Once the policy was made official, one of the obvious questions was just how many employers would take advantage of the shift. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services suggested the number would be quite modest, and most Americans wouldn't notice any change, but once the door was open, it was difficult to guess how many would walk through.

Slate noted that one rather high-profile employer wasted little time in embracing Trump's policy.

On Friday, Indiana Public Media reports, Notre Dame notified employees and students that starting next year -- on Jan. 1, 2018, and Aug. 15, 2018, respectively -- birth control will no longer be covered under the insurance plans the university offers.Thousands of Indiana women stand to lose their contraception coverage in coming months, putting them on the hook for a greater risk of unwanted pregnancies or, if they choose to pay out of pocket, thousands of dollars in expenses their male colleagues will never have to pay.

Before Trump changed the policy, Notre Dame abided by a compromise created by Obama administration: the universities' employees and students could have contraceptive coverage through a third-party system that cost the university nothing. All Notre Dame had to do was raise an objection by submitting a waiver.

But the school was one of the entities that said the paperwork was itself morally objectionable.

Notre Dame is obviously just one university, but its decision in this area will affect quite a few people. Vox's report noted that the school "has 5,825 employees and 12,393 students, according to a university spokesperson. Ninety percent of employees are covered by the university insurance plan and may be affected by the policy change (though, of course, not all use birth control). Among students, 3,020 -- 705 undergraduates and 2,315 graduate and professional students -- are covered by the university plan."

The same report added that Notre Dame will cover birth control "if it's used as treatment for a medical condition and not as pregnancy prevention."