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Catholic colleges continue to deny contraception to students

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Bridgette Dunlap organized off-campus clinic for birth control prescriptions

Bridgette Dunlap, a Fordham University law student, knew that the school’s health plan had to pay for birth control pills, in keeping with New York state law. What she did not find out until she was in an examining room, “in the paper dress,” was that the student health service — in keeping with Roman Catholic tenets — would simply refuse to prescribe them.

As a result, students have had to go to Planned Parenthood or private doctors to get prescriptions. Some, unable to afford the doctor visits, gave up birth control pills entirely. In November, Ms. Dunlap, 31, who was raised a Catholic and was educated at parochial schools, organized a one-day, off-campus clinic staffed by volunteer doctors who wrote prescriptions for dozens of women.

Many Catholic colleges decline to prescribe or cover birth control, citing religious reasons. Now they are under pressure to change. This month the Obama administration, citing the medical case for birth control, made a politically charged decision that the new health care law requires insurance plans at Catholic institutions to cover birth control without co-payments for employees, and that may be extended to students. But Catholic organizations are resisting the rule, saying it would force them to violate their beliefs and finance behavior that betrays Catholic teachings…

The administration’s rule has now run headlong into a dispute over values as Republican presidential contenders compete for the most conservative voters. In an election season that features Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who have stressed their Catholic faith, scientific thinking on the medical benefits of birth control has clashed with deeply held religious and cultural beliefs.

The Obama administration relied on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, an independent group of doctors and researchers that concluded that birth control is not just a convenience but is medically necessary “to ensure women’s health and well-being.”

About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and about 4 of 10 of those end in abortion, according to the Institute of Medicine report, which was released in July. It noted that providing birth control could lower both pregnancy and abortion rates. It also cited studies showing that women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to be depressed and to smoke, drink and delay or skip prenatal care, potentially harming fetuses and putting babies at increased risk of being born prematurely and having low birth weight.

RTFA if you think you need to read the conservative religious agitprop from Republican candidates.

The Catholic Church considers it morally wrong to prevent conception by any artificial means, including condoms, IUDs, birth control pills and sterilization…

Despite Catholic teachings, surveys have found that 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women, as in the general population, have used contraceptives.

The article is much longer and wanders through many tales of frustration for young women who entered specific Catholic colleges for the merits of one or another school in the college. Now, moving along with their education, they find themselves denied medical care, topics excised from their studies as thoroughly as the Catholic church would do if it had the full power of the state bending to religious ideology.

Religious schools believe they needn’t live up to the civil law of the land – but, don’t mind taking grants from the government or not paying taxes.

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Written by Ed Campbell

January 31, 2012 at 6:00 am

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  1. I didn’t realize that Gingrich and Santorum were Catholics. Not the same church as the Kennedys I guess.

    David Halliday

    January 31, 2012 at 10:48 am


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