Starting next year, the University of Notre Dame will end its coverage of contraceptives for both students and staff, in accordance with the Trump administration’s rollback of the Affordable Care Act, which required employers to include birth control in their health insurance plans.
Notre Dame previously offered coverage through a third party, which allowed the university to meet the requirement while maintaining its religious opposition to contraceptives.
The university’s medical plan will cover contraceptives if they’re used to treat a specific medical condition and not as a method to prevent pregnancy.
While private schools have every right to impose unnecessary restrictions on students and staff, it still seems overly intrusive for the school to play both moralist and physician. A patient shouldn’t be obligated to disclose her medical history to anyone, for any reason, and certainly not to her university.
There’s an argument to be made, of course, that no one ought to complain. They chose to attend or work at Notre Dame, and that means accepting the school’s policies, however irrational they might believe them to be. But even practicing Catholics don’t align with the Church on all of its policies and many would like to push for change from within.
The anti-contraception measure wouldn’t just target students who want to have pre-marital sex. It would punish married opposite-sex couples who feel like having children right now would get in the way of their education. It would punish students who need birth control for medical reasons but whose explanations are rejected by the administration. It would punish students who attend Notre Dame, not because they’re devout Catholics, but because their parents (who pay the tuition) urged them to attend or because the school had a specific program that drew them in.
For a school that distinguishes itself as being pro-life, this is also a great way to ensure that women obtain abortions in secret.
As we learned with the case of Maddi Runkles, it is often easier to seek forgiveness for the “sin” of abortion than live with the stigma of being an unwed mother. But for students and staff who rely on birth control for health reasons, they may be forced to suffer as a result of an ideology that is at odds with scientific facts.
Birth control doesn’t cause abortion and sex has other functions besides procreation. The Catholic Church is unable to accept that.
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