Sunday, December 9, 2007

Contraceptives? Really?

As I was walking out of Flanner last week, I grabbed an Observer and was shocked to find the ND Health Services now provides contraceptives for "medical needs." I never thought I would live to see the day where a Catholic school directly supplies its students with contraceptives that are explicitly against Church teaching. As I read the Observer article on the issue, I was even more blown away with the order in which it presented the information. First, the article states that "If a student comes in asking for birth control for the purpose of contraception, 'we're not going to ask a lot of questions,' said Ann Kleva, director of University Health Services. 'We'll say point blank, 'I'm sorry, we don't supply those services on campus because we abide by the teachings of the Church." Basically, if a girl were to go to health services to get birth control in order to have sex, she would of course be turned down. Who, after reading this article, would be unintelligent enough to go to health services and ask for birth control for sex when they know they could get it for "health reasons?" After saying you can only obtain it for health reasons, the article then goes on to list the specific health reasons you could give to get birth control. Reasons offered were, "irregular or painful menstrual cycles, no menstrual cycle or abdominal pain." I am confident that pretty much every single female has had some sort of abdominal pain at one point or another during her menstural cycle. If every single female has these "medical reasons", then every single female on this campus qualifies for birth control! Just to recap....first the article states that you won't get birth control if you ask for it on the grounds of sex, then you will get it if you ask for health reasons, then it lists the health reasons that qualify you, and finally one or more of them applies to every single female able to menstruate. This is basically a call for all women who want to have sex without responsibility to come get their contraceptives from Health Services. Along side this, the article also mentions that if you want to get your home prescription for birth control filled here, all you have to do is tell your doctor to include a note that it is not for sexual activities. Another degrading feature of this article is the mere fact that it compares Notre Dame to other "Catholic" institutions such as Georgetown University or Boston College. It uses their practices as an example of what Catholic schools do with respect to the issue, as if we should be emulating their Catholic character. What kind of Catholic school supplies its students with the means to break the Church's explicitly stated doctrines?


Anonymous said...

First of all, the observer lacks the appropriate judgment to determine what is "news" and what is "olds." The fact that the university offers birth control is nothing NEW. I just think the observer was bored.

Anyway, I think that the screening process for birth control is more strenuous than the article would suggest. Personally, I think the university does a great job in this respect.

Moreover, I think we can understand times in which the use of birth control for medical reasons would be morally licit. Though I understand that there are other drugs which may be more effective and more than likely far less potentially damaging, removing the option of birth control for medical purposes can put the university at risk of failing to adequately care for their students.

In the final analysis, it is not the university's position to be making moral decisions for students. It can actively shape a well-formed conscience in the student and by all means this should be the goal, but ultimately, the decision is the student's. The university cannot be held accountable for a student who lies, deceives, and is adamant in this respect to obtain birth control for contraceptive purposes. The university is accountable only insofar as it fails to promote a life of chastity and prevents the most appropriate forum for the formation of a good conscience.

Rachel said...

I would have to agree with the other commentor. This isn't really 'news' so much as explaining what the UHS policy is--and this policy is and has always been in line with Catholic moral teaching.

As much debate as rages about the effects of the pill and whether or not it actually does address the root of the problem when it comes to menstrual issues, the Church teaches that it is licit for a woman to use it for medical, non-contraceptive purposes. Humanae Vitae even says this, if I remember correctly.

Besides, the nurse quoted does say that in order for them to prescribe it to a female student for 'medical reasons,' they will do an exam. No student can just walk in, tell the nurse that their period is a pain, and walk away with the pill.

The UHS should do everything within reason to ensure that the pills they are prescribing are not being used for things antithetical to Church teachings. But they just aren't liable for a student's deception on the matter--as rare as I think that might be.

We have to keep in mind that for some students, the UHS is their main health service provider. If a female student has problems which her doctor believes will be best addressed by her taking the pill, it's not really fair to her for the doctor's hands to be tied because of the potential misuse of that prescription by others.

Anonymous said...

From a faithfulness to Catholic doctrine point of view, Georgetown is an abomination. I agree with Patrick Reilly from the Cardinal Newman Society when he indicated in an EWTN appearance that GU is pretty much at the bottom of the 224 Catholic colleges and universities in these fine United States.

Making any comparisons to Georgetown, BC, or frankly any other Jesuit school would be like comparing the 2007 Jax Jaguars to the 2007 Chicago Bears - neither is perfect, but one is significantly better than the other.

Rachel said...

Something to ponder, from Humanae Vitae, as I alluded to above:

15. The Church, on the contrary, does not at all consider illicit the use of those therapeutic means truly necessary to cure diseases of the organism, even if an impediment to procreation, which may be foreseen, should result therefore, provided such impediment is not, for whatever motive, directly willed.

Elizabeth said...

I'm going to go ahead and agree with the above comment on Humanae Vitae. I'm 110% for ND as an upstanding Catholic university, so if the Observer is going to be an apt representation of that for which we stand, shouldn't there have been some mention of Humanae Vitae? Some sort of substance amidst the surface story that was (obviously) written to get people mad? Or is it only about getting people upset enough to write an irrational yet entertaining Viewpoint? Even as someone who enjoys irrational viewpoints... let the truth be heard and let the fullness of the teaching be printed, as it should have been from the beginning.