| Thursday, February 9, 2012
We are reminded this week there is ongoing debate in Washington over the Obama administration’s mandate to require most employers to provide coverage of prescription contraceptives. As a member of the Notre Dame community and as a woman, I cannot help but feel personally drawn to this debate.
First, as a graduate student at Notre Dame, I have a deep respect for the Catholic Church and do not view it in a negative light. However, as a woman who believes in gender equality, I feel strongly women have the right to affordable health care, including contraceptives. The event of an unplanned pregnancy, even in marriage, has lasting consequences on the health and time of the mother, especially since women are traditionally the primary caregivers of their children. It is naive to argue there is no link between gender equality and access to affordable and safe contraceptive methods.
Of course, I understand contraceptives violate the teachings of the Catholic Church. I was also aware of this when I decided to begin my graduate studies here fours years ago. Many people would point out I could have attended another educational institution, one which provides this coverage to their employees. Of course, at the time I was not thinking about this at all. I choose to be a student at Notre Dame because of its high academic standards and strong sense of community.
If we use the line of reasoning above, women who are exercising their right to take contraceptives would not have access to an education at this University without having to seek out alternative health care — simply because they are female. Isn’t this blatant sexism?