A Chicago federal appellate court on Tuesday denied a request on the part of the University of Notre Dame to provide it with temporary relief from the federal contraception and abortion mandate of the Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) while the university continues to appeal the mandate. Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that he didn’t feel that he could grant Notre Dame temporary relief since the insurance companies that Notre Dame contracts with have not voice objections to the mandate. “We imagine that what the university wants is an order forbidding [insurer and plan administrator] Aetna and Meritain to provide any contraceptive coverage to Notre Dame staff or students pending final judgment in the district court...we can’t issue such an order,” wrote Posner.
Notre Dame has argued that even though it is not being required to pay for contraceptives directly, that providing insurance coverage which covers contraceptives and abortions violates Catholic doctrine and the religious liberty of the institution. “We have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame’s authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to 'trigger' the provision of female contraceptives,” Judge Posner wrote in the Seventh Circuit’s majority opinion.