55134_birth_control_illustrationf
Photo: Morgan Rees

Thousands of students and faculty at the University of Notre Dame recently learned that they will lose access to no-cost contraception under the university's health insurance plan.

This comes several weeks after the Trump administration's rollback of certain parts of the Affordable Care Act, which required employers to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Now, companies and nonprofits can refuse to cover contraception based on moral or religious obligations.

Coverage for contraception will officially end next year on Jan. 1 for faculty and staff and in August for students. Contraceptive medications will only be provided in order to treat “a specific medical condition and not as a means of preventing pregnancy,” a university statement wrote to employees. The announcement has sparked protest on campus from students and faculty.

Penn's Student Health Service website still states that birth control is covered by the Penn Student Insurance Plan. But students have previously expressed fears that the Trump administration could limit their access to birth control.

Trump’s reversal of the ACA mandate took effect immediately after its announcement on Oct. 6. More than 55 million women receive birth control without a co-payment because of the ACA mandate, and hundreds of thousands could potentially lose benefits because of the new regulations. 

Notre Dame did not directly provide no-cost birth control even before the rollback, due to the University's affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, Notre Dame had signed a waiver that allowed those with university health insurance to receive contraception coverage through a third party, thereby complying with the ACA.

Notre Dame students and faculty staged a peaceful protest on Oct. 10 in response to the announcement. Two national advocacy groups, the National Women's Law Center and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, have also filed lawsuits against the new rule on behalf of five women, three of whom are Notre Dame students. 

All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.