In a Sept. 29 letter to the White House, 18 Catholic universities expressed their dismay with a new government mandate that would require access to contraceptives in each institution’s student health care plans.
Representatives of these colleges requested exemption from a stipulation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ health care overhaul that would require all private health plans, including student plans provided by colleges and universities, to include contraceptives and abortion services. They wrote that this stipulation would force universities to adopt practices that contradict the Catholic Church’s strong opposition to contraceptives and abortion.
Though Georgetown’s administration was not involved with the writing of the letter, Carol Day, director of Health Education Services, said that the university supports Church doctrine.
“[Through] Student Health Services you cannot get contraceptives for birth control reasons, university policy might allow for contraceptives to be prescribed by SHS doctors for medical reasons, such as hormone adjustment,” she said.
According to university spokeswoman Stacy Kerr, the university has opposed this type of legislation as a member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
“AJCU has been engaged in initiatives to revise the implementation of the regulations as they pertain to religious institutions, and Georgetown is supportive of those efforts,” Kerr wrote in an email.
In a further move to oppose the legislation, the Cardinal Newman Society urged thousands of members to send comments to the Department of Health and Human Services opposing the change.
Katie Schmitz (COL ’13), former secretary of Georgetown University Right to Life and co-director of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference that the group runs with the Knights of Columbus, said she was content that the university was on board with the movement against these regulations.
“Georgetown is a Catholic institution … and I don’t think that students, many of whom are pro-life and Catholic, should have to pay for something that they are opposed to,” Schmitz said.
For Kelsey Warrick, vice president of H*yas for Choice, which supports abortion and reproductive rights, the reform laws might spur Georgetown’s health care services to take action.
“I think it’s a great program that they’re enforcing, but at the same time I feel that a lot of universities are already on that track,” she said. “I’d be interested to see how Georgetown reconciles its religious beliefs with the new law.”