Petition blasts Notre Dame for ‘contraceptive culture’

Hundreds of students, alumni, and others are echoing a Catholic bishop’s call for the University of Notre Dame to stop including contraceptive coverage in its health insurance plans.

The March 20 petition comes in the wake of a February 7 letter from the school’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, who explained that the school “will provide coverage in the University’s own insurance plans for simple contraceptives” and provide funding for “natural family planning options.”

[RELATED: Notre Dame changes mind again, will cover contraceptives]

The announcement was met with widespread condemnation from some students and alumni, who argue that the university should stay true to its Catholic tradition and remain committed to its previous pledge to not cover contraceptives.

“We, the undersigned alumni, students, family, faculty, and friends of Notre Dame, join Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades in his ‘strong objection’ to Father Jenkins’s decision to include contraceptives in the University’s health insurance plans,” the petition states.

“The University will thereby furnish students and employees with the means to commit acts the Church teaches are intrinsically and seriously immoral while knowing many will do so,” the document continues. “This illicit facilitation of contraception will promote the ‘contraceptive culture’ that, as St. John Paul II and Pope Paul VI warned, will be a seedbed for abortions and illicit sex.”

[RELATED: University rallies students to fight for Planned Parenthood]

In an attempt to halt the program, the document, which as of press time had received exactly 800 signatures, makes three specific demands from the administration, including a call to “immediately halt the provision of abortifacients and contraceptives to students and employees by the University’s insurers by accepting the exemption proffered by the Government and withdrawing from the mandate’s ‘accommodation’ program.”

The petition also asks that the school “immediately exclude abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization from the University’s Flexible Spending Account program,” and “continue the exclusion of contraceptives from the University’s health insurance programs.”

Should the school fail to take those steps, the document contends that a “judicial inquiry” would be “appropriate” in order to determine whether the university “abused the judicial process” through its participation in a 2012 lawsuit seeking an exemption from the federal government mandate requiring employers to provide contraceptive and abortifacient coverage.

At the time, ND argued that a compromise solution crafted by the Obama administration, whereby contraceptives would be covered by a third-party provider, was untenable because such an arrangement would still be inconsistent with its Catholic identity, according to The Irish Rover.

[RELATED: Planned Parenthood funds Plan B vending machine at Brandeis]

The petition was released last month by an alumni group called Sycamore Trust, which works to “bring about an authentic Catholic renewal on campus.”

“Our strategy is simple. Let alumni know what’s going on and they will stand up for what’s right,” the group explains on its website. “If you believe that the school’s formative heritage, its Catholic identity, and its sustaining relationship to the Church, ought to be protected for future generations, we invite you to join us in whatever way you can.”

The University of Notre Dame did not immediately respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment. 

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