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Notre Dame faces lawsuit for birth control coverage

NOTRE DAME, Ind. --  The University of Notre Dame and the federal government are getting slapped with a lawsuit by current and former staff and students.  They are protesting the changes made to the University's contraceptive plan. 

It's been six months of back and forth with the university, which first announced possible changes in November 2017. 

64 pages of claims. Claims that rights to co-pay free birth control have been hindered, in direction violation of the Affordable Care Act. 

Under that federal law, employers have to provide contraceptive drugs and services to their employees, without a co-pay. 

But several religious organizations, including Notre Dame, signed a settlement agreement with the Trump administration back in November 2017. That settlement agreement allowed them to be exempt from the ruling.

"All of that is up to the decision of the individual. It's not up to the school and it's not up to their boss,"  says Michelle Banker, senior counsel of reproductive rights and health for the National Women's Law Center.  Banker is one of the attorney's filing the suit. 

"They should not be subject to the religious beliefs of their school or their boss when it comes to their health care," she adds. 

Per the University's health care website, some forms of birth control are allowed and partially covered.

The site specifies "out-of-pocket costs are the same as for other drugs and services."

But others, including copper IUDs and emergency contraception, are not permitted under the university's health insurance. 

"They're pulling coverage for certain methods of birth control and charging co-pays and deductibles for others," adds Banker.

It could be very costly for some. 

"They impose a $500 deductible in their student health plan. It could mean that students have to make that $500 deductible and then pay cost-sharing on top of that once the deductible is met," she explains. 

The plaintiffs say, they're not asking for much.  Banker says they're just asking for what they believe they have the right to.

"We want students at Notre Dame to have access to the full range of FDA approved birth control methods for men and women," she explains. "Without cost-sharing as they are entitled to under the ACA." 

ABC57 did reach out to the University of Notre Dame. 

Paul Browne, the Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications at Notre Dame says, "The assertions on the face of it are maliciously and preposterously false." 

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