Univ. of Notre Dame President Protests Birth Control Inclusion

Ann McClure's picture
Friday, September 30, 2011

President Barack Obama's health care overhaul should be changed so that religious schools such as the University of Notre Dame aren't required to go against their beliefs and provide birth control to students and employees, the school president says.

The Rev. John Jenkins wrote a letter Wednesday to Kathleen Sebelius asking the Obama administration to broaden the definition of religious employer currently under consideration to ensure the school can continue its provide health care without going against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. He said the change in definition of religious employer is far narrower than current law and would require Notre Dame and other Catholic universities to offer prescription contraceptives and sterilization services to students and employees through health care plans.

"This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church's moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church's social teaching. It is an impossible position," he wrote.

A panel of health experts advising the administration last month recommended that the government require health insurance companies to cover birth control for women as preventive care, without copayments. The Health and Human Services Department asked for public comment on its proposed conscience clause. Jenkins was writing in response to that request.

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