To Jamee Elder, a doctoral candidate at the University of Notre Dame, no one should be denied coverage for reproductive health care because of their boss's or university's religion.
"We all feel that everyone should have the right to decide what's best for their own health and livelihood regardless of where they happen to work and go to school," Elder told The Chicago Tribune. "It's very frustrating for us, especially with this most recent change, to have our rights being taken away. "
That's why on June 26 Americans United, the National Women's Law Center, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the law firm Macey Swanson LLP filed a lawsuit to challenge a settlement between the Donald J. Trump administration and Notre Dame that allows the university to use religion to deny birth control coverage to students and employees.
The case, Irish 4 Reproductive Health v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was filed on behalf of Irish 4 Reproductive Health (I4RH), a group of Notre Dame students who aren't afraid to say that denying students and employees access to contraception in the name of religion is discrimination, plain and simple.
"We're all here to do research, and we want to make the best of our time here, and we don't want to be distracted by all these obstacles to basic health care," Mauna Dasari, a doctoral candidate, told The Chicago Tribune. "The fact that the university administration has been going back and forth about what is and isn't covered, as a Ph.D. student I'm already stressed enough. I don't want to be stressed about my health care."
Let's rewind to how this lawsuit came about: Last year, the Trump administration issued rules to let bosses and universities use religion to justify denying employees and students access to birth control. Thanks to these rules, Notre Dame announced it wouldn't cover birth control, so AU and allies filed a lawsuit, Shiraef v. Hargan, to ensure that students could still have access to birth control, which is critical to women's health and equality.
In December 2017, AU also filed public comments to tell the Trump administration that these new rules harm women and are unconstitutional. Joining allies, AU delivered more than 500,000 comments from people nationwide--including AU supporters who also know that women's health and equality and religious freedom are at stake.
In a sudden about-face, Notre Dame officials then changed their minds and said they would indeed continue to provide...