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Insurance coverage for birth control

| Wednesday, December 6, 2017

There has been quite a bit of turmoil recently over the University’s willingness to give insurance coverage for our female students on birth control. The University has recently second guessed its willingness to continue providing coverage and, even though they decided to continue the insurance, there have still been heated arguments about many different aspects of the ordeal, ranging from sexism to religious freedom. Of all things said, we cannot dispute the fact that the University has every right to withdraw their part in giving our students access to contraception based on its Catholic principles; however, they shouldn’t if they want to uphold the University’s commitment to accepting and welcoming everyone’s beliefs, even over issues that contradict with church doctrine.

I love my Notre Dame family and the Catholic foundation of the school provides a certain richness of tradition that I couldn’t get anywhere else. I’m not Catholic, but I’ll still join in at mass and try to follow along with Catholic prayer for the sake of family and community. However, there’s a limit as to how much Catholicism can be implemented as far as what students can and can’t do or what they all have equal access to without going against the University’s claim of respect and tolerance for all views.  The University webpage states: “We therefore believe a variety of beliefs and opinions are indispensable to provoking debate, ensuring a diversity of perspectives, promoting scholarship and building community; we believe in the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake; we believe in sustaining a dialogue between faith and reason across disciplines and in the multitude of discussions, debates and inquiries that take place at the University.” Although this is a Catholic institution, students need the freedom to make decisions about things like contraception without enforced Catholic influence.  Students need the freedom to apply faith and reason to their lifestyle decisions independent of University beliefs.

Many students (some Catholic students included) take advantage of contraceptives to prevent untimely pregnancies.  Much money, research and time has been put into the creation of contraceptives, which, in this world, provide women a way to reach equality with men in the workforce.  It’s hard to become a rich, powerful boss-lady when you end up pregnant before finishing your schooling. The fact that many women, especially those with a medical career track, have a long road of schooling ahead makes the necessity for contraception even greater unless they want to be lonely cat ladies.  This is a personal lifestyle choice, and it isn’t the University’s place to limit access to it by taking away financial coverage.  One could argue the University isn’t banning the use of contraceptives and has a right to take no part in student access to it, and they would be correct.  However, for many female students, forking out money from their own pockets every month for birth control isn’t an option. This creates a privilege gap between those with money and those without. The views of the University shouldn’t be used to directly influence the lifestyle choices of the student body, and they shouldn’t be able to prevent underprivileged students continued access to the product.

Along with the idea that the University should uphold its commitment to acceptance of all views, I would like to point out a more pressing issue on campus that should probably hold a bigger spotlight than a responsible female adult’s personal business. Lately, we’ve had a couple sexual assaults on campus, despite all our efforts to prevent it. If we have students running around raping each other, why is contraception the issue of choice?  Sure, we have the GreeNDot program and a Moreau class to tell us that rape is bad. But if we need all of that as a society to know not to use another human being like that, I think we all need a bit of religious reform that goes way past the use of contraceptives. It is important to focus on what’s truly important on campus and maintain the freedom and diversity of beliefs that the University claims to want to uphold.

Vanessa Davis


Nov. 27

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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