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Thank you, Irish 4 Reproductive Health

| Monday, February 26, 2018

I was out of town when I heard that a group named Irish 4 Reproductive Health was passing out condoms on campus. “Who were these brave souls?” I wondered. Secret agents from Planned Parenthood behind enemy lines? UNICEF air-dropping aid to a college campus? Colleagues of the tooth fairy who flutter into campus at night to grant good college students the means to safety and security during their moonlit escapades? Or could it be that they were simply concerned students like me, hoping to make a difference?

Whoever you are, thank you, Irish 4 Reproductive Health.

In his most recent letter, Fr. Jenkins stated that the University would provide coverage for “simple contraceptives,” which he defined as “drugs designed to prevent conception.” I see no relevant distinction between providing the opportunity for students to obtain these simple contraceptive drugs and providing the opportunity to obtain condoms on campus, other than the fact that talking about providing condoms is perceived as more lewd and taboo.

This is likely because condoms are implicated more directly in the act of sex than the distance provided by talking about a pill taken regularly. They are more, if I may, straight to the point. But this does not change the fact that they are by far the easiest and cheapest form of “simple contraceptive” on the market. The University has taken a great step forward toward sexual health in providing coverage for certain simple contraceptives, and we should acknowledge that, but we should also demand that they provide us the opportunity to obtain the simplest of all contraceptives.

What Irish 4 Reproductive Health did was simply fill in the gap in coverage the university currently still allows to exist. And in doing so, they did more to advance the sexual health of Notre Dame students in a few hours than the University has done in many decades.

Access to condoms allows all students on campus to make this same conscientious decision of what is right for them. Under this current health insurance policy, the burden of practicing safe sex is placed solely on the female, but providing condoms allows the males on campus to take some of that responsibility onto themselves.

While students must jump through many hoops just to obtain the pill, requiring planning far in advance of any sexual activity, condoms have the advantage of being available immediately when you need them. No burdensome paperwork, no weeks of waiting, no side effects ranging from uncomfortable to gut-wrenching — just safe sex as soon as you’re ready. To be clear, this does not mean to condone hook-up culture, and neither would providing condoms on campus. It merely acknowledges that this phenomenon exists, and helps ensure that the individuals taking part are doing so safely.

Condoms have the added benefit of being one of the only forms of contraception that also prevents the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, which, if you’ve seen the recent studies done on the sexual health of U.S. campuses, appears to be a veritable epidemic at Notre Dame. I am glad to see someone finally stepped up and addressed the elephant-sized genital wart on campus.

This need not be a philosophical or theological issue, merely a safety and well-being issue. Sex happens on Notre Dame’s campus. Right now, the University’s stance on access to contraception makes it extremely difficult for this sex to be safe, but providing condoms would ameliorate some of this difficulty. So once again, on behalf of all sexually active adults on campus struggling to be responsible, I thank you, Irish 4 Reproductive Health.


Sam Kennedy
Feb. 25

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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