Some students at Catholic colleges protest lack of access to birth control


Single, 18-year-old female, likes having control over her own body, looking for affordable birth control.

That’s Keely Monroe’s summary of her life at Fordham University, a Jesuit college in New York. “Finding contraception at Fordham was about as easy as finding a good man from a want ad,” Monroe said of her alma mater at a press conference held Thursday in Washington by Catholic Students for Women’s Health.

The students spoke in favor of available birth control on campuses in light of a new federal rule requiring most employers to cover contraceptives as part of their health insurance benefits. The mandate excludes churches and other houses of worship, but includes faith-based employers such as Catholic universities, which under the rule must also include reproductive services in their student health coverage.

Catholic Church leaders have denounced the rule as an affront to religious freedom. The policy was also criticized by Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who in a floor speech Wednesday called it “an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country.” Democratic Senate candidate and former Virginia governor Tim Kaine has also broken with the Obama administration to call for broader exemptions.

But a number of students attending Catholic universities have supported the new measure, an indication of the larger fractures in Catholics’ attitude toward reproductive services. Surveys show that 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraception and that more than half of American Catholics say religiously affiliated colleges should be required to include birth control in health coverage.

The president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Michael Galligan-Stierle, told The New York Times in January that students attending religiously affiliated colleges should have known what to expect. “No one would go to a Jewish barbecue and expect pork chops to be served,” he said.

To which Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke said Thursday morning, “When we hear conservative Catholic organizations ask what we expected when we enrolled at a Catholic school, we can only answer that we expected women to be treated equally, to have their medical needs met. When students found out that the [Obama] administration was going to help us in this way, there was an environment of jubilation, just celebration. … People who haven’t gone to these schools don’t realize it, but on the campuses, people are talking about it, they’re excited about it, and they vote.”

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  1. If enough feel this way than Fordham, and whatever others wish, should just vote on disaffiliating from being Catholic Universities. I don’t think Universities should be kept as Catholic Universities if they really just find the teachings of Catholicism ridiculous.

    But I do think her word usage does get at what I’m hearing from the other side. Many of them just see contraception as a “medical necessity” and Catholic Universities not providing it would be like them not providing aspirin.

  2. The language of medical necessity has been carefully crafted (see the Institute of Medicine recommendations that are behind the HHS mandate, which rely heavily on statistics provided by Planned Parenthood’s Guttmacher Institute to make the case that pregnancy is a public health crisis). Would that we could be as careful and convincing in making our case. All too often, especially to women, we simply come across as The Church of Men Saying No.

  3. When people reject the Church’s teachings on morals, they break something very large. If those people Communicate, they put themselves in a perilous position. As do the bishops and priests who seem too terrified of the errant women to speak out for the Truth. It is a bad position all the way around.

  4. Ah too bad. What a sorry time we live in when 18 year olds decide what policy at any college should be. Someone tell them to get their behinds into a library and start studying. This Animal House mentality to college is one of the worst aspects of contemporary culture.

  5. It’s funny that they still Fordham and Georgetown “Catholic” colleges. Anyone who has been there in the past will note it is hard to tell any difference between a secular college and the school. So, it is no wonder that it’s students are divorced from a religious emergence that would reinforce Catholic ideals.

    Remember who removed Crucifixes from Georgetown classrooms voluntarily?

    At Georgetown University, the Jesuits are conflicted over whether or not crucifixes — the defining symbol of their faith — even belong in university classrooms.

    Georgetown’s students who raised the matter of the missing crucifixes in 90 percent of the classrooms, even non-Catholics, seem to understand the issue better than the agonized Jesuit community.

    “Frankly, I can’t imagine why a university, run by the Society of Jesus and operating under a pontifical charter, would have to debate the issue,” writes Cardinal James A. Hickey of Washington

    Or more recently, who can forget Georgetown leaders covering a Crucifix at the request of Obama.

    Recent Example: Professors Teaching Secularism at Georgetown

  6. Regina Faighes says:

    A one hundred percent effective form of birth control was available to her: abstinence.

  7. In Germany, Universities don’t care for the private life of students. If someone wants birth control, she is to get it from her doctor.
    Birth control is not paid by the national health insurance, an exception is for girls under 18. (But college girls are normally above 18). From 18 to 20 they are to pay a part of it. But neither pills nor condoms are unaffordable, if you can pay for your education at college, you can also pay for the birth control. I can’t see why the said young woman must demand paid birth control by her college. Is she intelligent enough to go to see a doctor herself or buy condom in a supermarket? I hope she can read as a college student.

    I can’t understand why in the U.S. the employers and the education institutions should care for the private life of their employees and students? It sound like socialism. In Soviet Union for example, abortion was free. And in other socialist countries, condom and pills were also free and distributed regularly to the employees.

  8. 1. Just because you can’t find birth control devices at the school doesn’t mean you can’t walk across the street (hop in a cab or on the subway) and find this stuff. I mean, it is NYC.

    2. No once forced you to go to a Catholic University. It was your own free choice and therefore, you must agree to their rules.

    3. I wonder if we will see a letter from Cardinal Wuerl’s office stating that they do not have the right to use the word “Catholic” in their name. But then again, it seems to be one of these groups that have suddenly sprung up for the issue. I wonder who is funding them? Could it be Catholics for Obama or some other leftist group?

  9. Mark LaVergne says:

    “…which rely heavily on statistics provided by PP’s Guttmacher Institute.” Wow, there’s a credible source for you — NOT !!

  10. Fiergenholt says:

    “jkm” (2/11 at 5:53am) hit on an accurate perception that is often discounted, but should not be: “All too often, especially to women, we simply come across as The Church of Men Saying No.”

    Anyone who has ever studied the influence of gender on spirituality — and even on ethics and morality — KNOWS that men and women validate their own behavior differently. Men tend to look outward to immutable “black-and-white” laws given by a God (of some type) out there somewhere. Women are more apt to look inside of themselves for their sources of sacredness and validation. That external versus internal focus seems to be built into humanity almost by Natural Law — an imbedded default option or perhaps a “bios” (reverting to computer language.) Look at the voices talking about this today:

    –On the HHS side are folks like Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, HHS Secretary Sebelius, the women leadership in Planned Parenthood. Their argumants are voiced around “contraception” — something very private and personal and internal to women.

    –On the “non-HHS” side are Rick Warren, a lot of Catholic bishops (can’t say “ALL” because I do not know that), Vice President Biden, Florida Senator Rubio. The masculine appeal is to the highest law of the land — the U. S. Constitution — or to the highest moral law of the Universe — “God’s Law.”

  11. Mark LaVergne says:

    I googled the subject of the story and learned that she hasn’t been a Fordham student in a number of years. A graduate of the UC Berkeley law school, she is an activist in this area, currently serving as a Research Fellow at something called the LSRJ Foundation (Law Students for Reproductive Justice). Be interesting to know where the funding for this comes from.

    If you read through the HuffPost story, and examine the other cases cited, you can expect that the meme of “victimhood” is likely to be pushed by supporters of Obama’s decision. All very predictable — when the logic of your argument fails, just claim to be a victim.

  12. Fiergenholt says:

    I normally do not post two in a row so quickly, but too many things are moving too fast here:

    The Obama administration is depending upon the young adults — including a large proportion of Catholic young adults — to support them on this issue. HOWEVER, the only meaningful support is at the ballot box but young adults — whether Catholic or not — do not actually vote in large numbers to have any genuine effect here. Noisy, maybe but effective where it counts? I do not see any evidence here at all of that. I might like to ask whether that Fordham college student has ever voted?

  13. Frank Weathers says:

    A Petition For All Freedom Loving People to Sign UPDATED

  14. I’m a grad student at a catholic college, no want no need for birth control. My wife and I however would have been pleased if there were NFP classes offered through the University Health Center though.
    There are plenty of people in our college who understand this is an important religious liberty issue.

  15. Mark LaVergne says:

    What, you (or students sharing your views) weren’t interviewed for this HuffPost story? Why am I not shocked :-) Mitch, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, which provide an invaluable (and rarely heard) perspective.

  16. Deacon Norb says:

    Mitch: Can I make a suggestion ? Don’t go to the college’s administration directly about your request — go to the University’s Campus Ministry/ Catholic Chaplain’s Office.

    They would very likely be open to sponsoring NFP classes but they need to know that you — or someone — will attend. If your college is a non-traditional one with more students in their late twenties than their late teens you might be surprised at the turnout.

    I base my suggestion upon what happened locally at a very big public university. The Catholic University Parish was heavily involved in RCIA. In fact one year they had over 60 participants — some of which were “lazy” Catholics who wanted to get back active but a great deal — maybe half two two-thirds — formally became Catholics on the Easter Vigil that year.

  17. It is a clear symptom of the moral decline of our country that unmarried young women are not at all embarrassed to proclaim to the world, through statements like these, that they are fornicating.

  18. Not that Fordham is a Catholic University, but go to one that is definitely not if you want access to birth control. Better yet, stop sleeping around.

  19. Irish Spectre says:

    If it’s a case of massive disingenuousness, then neither Ms. Monroe nor Ms. Fluke would admit to it; if on the other hand it’s massive stupidity, they wouldn’t know it!

  20. Oh, spare me the sob stuff! I went to Fordham back in the days when it was actually Catholic. Back then we didn’t even have health insurance through the school. Just a ploy to raise sympathy for the attack on religious freedom.

  21. TOUGH ROCKS! What part of the word “Catholic” did these kids fail to grasp? If they want their school to provide things that the Catholic Church doesn’t like, then there are thousands of non-Catholic colleges from which to choose. I am really sick and tired of the “it’s all about me” whiners demanding that everyone else, including churches, conform to their wants and desires. Seriously this kind of bull $%^& just fries me.

    Disclaimer: I am not Catholic.

  22. “All too often, especially to women, we simply come across as The Church of Men Saying No.”

    You mean men like Jesus Christ? Where is their any evidence that our Blessed Mother Mary did not accomodate the patriarchal society of her time? Modern Feminism is contrary to Christianity, especially to Catholicism.

  23. Those claiming the medical necessity line re contraceptives would have more of a leg to stand on if the rate of unplanned pregnancies had gone down as the availability of contraceptives at low and no cost has risen. But the unplanned pregnancy rates are as high or higher than several decades ago. And of course potentialy life threatening sexually transmitted diseases like Hep C, HPV and HIV continue to spread all of which are costing a tremendous amount of money treat and profoundly compromising people’s lives who suffer from them.

    These are the real women’s health issues… that women have been sold a bill of goods that contraception promotes health when on every level women’s health has been increasingly compromised. Let’s not even talk about the breast cancer link to BCPs and the very serious environmental impact we see from these hormones which continue to passed into the environment via the urine of women using them. They are buying organic fruits and vegetables and going to the gym in the interest of good health while dangerously altering their bodies with these hormones. And the unplanned pregnancy rate remains as high or higher than in previous decades.

    The best thing about the HHS mandate is that for a moment a fraction of our message is getting out. And the world gets to see the great men we have in leadership in the Catholic Church in America in our USCCB and in Cardinal-designate and USCCB president Archbishop Timothy Dolan. People in Canada and Europe are looking on in envy at this response by our bishops and the Orthodox bishops and various institutions.

  24. And I thought women were supposed to be soooooo smart!! Why don’t they march themselves down to the nearest FREE CLINIC and get whatever they want????? Noooooo….they want to FORCE those with opposing views to do that for them. Right…and who said this wasn’t a political issue??? You know, they could always CHOOSE to not have sex!!! Now there’s a concept, eh??

  25. She doesn’t want control of her own body, or even of her own sex life. She wants to nurse off the pharmaceutical industry, and have it all paid for by her daddy the federal government, under the illusion that this will make everything safe and okay, with never a worry.

    Of course, what’s really happening is that her fake daddy and mommy are leaving her out in the woods, armed only with pills, as bait and sacrifice to anything out there that might otherwise come to daddy’s house and complain and throw him out of office. Keep the wolves on the payroll with enough fresh meat, and they won’t turn into responsible voting citizens and demand better. And if she turns into a wolf herself, running around with the pack and pretending not to be sad, so much the better.

    Young women deserve better than this. The reason women should be going to college is to learn and to become better people, not to be treated as amateur sex workers. Not by men, not by each other, not by themselves.

  26. From one Mary to another: Amen sister!
    I’m sick to death of contraception being promoted as if it were actually GOOD for women, actually HELPED them have control over their own bodies. And the sickest statement of all is the idea that contraception decreases the abortion rate.
    No matter how much it fails to lower abortion rates, the answer is always to give away lower cost birth control or spend more time teaching high schoolers how to use condoms.
    As far as I’m concerned, contraceptives are not only morally wrong, but the hormonal forms are also directly dangerous to women’s health. And considering that I once left the Church because of her stand on contraceptives and abortion, it was pretty embarrassing for me to have to admit that the Church was more pro-woman than the current feminists.


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