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Monday, January 30, 2012

Separation Anxiety

"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."
                                --"Ruling on Contraception Draws Battle Lines at Catholic Colleges"
If Catholic colleges want to cling to outmoded doctrine, that's their prerogative. But these colleges' administrations seem perfectly willing to overlook the offending behavior, as long as they themselves suffer no financial penalties for it.  Personally I think Catholic universities like Georgetown, Fordham, Notre Dame, or the ever-expanding roster of Marymounts have every right to require their student bodies to uphold Catholic doctrine as a condition of admission.  These schools could require students to sign pledges that they will, under penalty of expulsion, refrain from pre-/extra-marital sex or that, if engaging in church-sanctioned sex, they will remain apart from the "culture of death" that uses artificial means of birth control.  But they don't impose such requirements.  Not surprising, really, since, according to the same article quoted above, 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptives.  These universities' admissions officers would suffer a collective stroke were such a policy implemented.

Let's talk hypocrisy, though.  Forget that 98% of Catholic women.  A probably greater percentage of Catholic colleges and universities enjoy considerable financial largesse from the very government whose policies they now resist.  If Fordham University and its ilk don't want to offer birth control as part of their health plans, that's fine.  No one should force them to violate their institutional consciences.  They also, therefore, should forego any federal funding for other programs.  No more Pell grants, no more federal research awards, etc.  Religious institutions should realize that they cannot invoke separation of church and state only when it suits their convenience.

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