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Catholics Support Insurance Coverage for Family Planning

September 29, 2011

The president of Notre Dame, Rev. John Jenkins, has written to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), calling for the refusal clause in the HHS guidelines on contraception to be widened even further to include institutions “inspired by faith.” He complains that the refusal clause included in the guidelines is unnecessarily narrow and would force his and other Catholic universities to offer services that he claims the church finds “morally objectionable.”

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said, “The Rev. Jenkins is certainly entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts. The Catholic church does not find contraception to be ‘morally objectionable.’ In fact, the vast majority of Catholics—who make up the church—find contraception to be completely compatible with their faith. More than 40 years ago, the majority of the pope’s hand-picked advisors agreed that there was no moral, theological or pastoral reason to bar Catholics from using contraception. While the bishops and their conservative allies may not like people to know this, Catholics use family planning at the same rate as do other women in the US. In fact, 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used a method of contraception that is banned by the Vatican.

“Just yesterday a dozen of the nation’s leading Catholic theologians argued the exact opposite of Rev. Jenkins said, explaining that the inclusion of coverage for family planning in the Affordable Care Act aligns very closely with Catholic teachings on social justice. The letter states that the ‘well-being of women, including their reproductive healthcare, is a Catholic value.’ The theologians note that they ‛see no medical or religious justification for exempting employers from paying for some necessary aspects of women’s healthcare’ and argue that, while workers’ rights are a sacred part of the Catholic commitment to social justice, ‘there is no Catholic teaching to support selective fairness.’”

Read the letter from Catholic theologians, which also appeared as an ad in Politico, here.