Notre Dame Swallows The Pill

Gerard V. Bradley

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI's prophetic affirmation (in Humanae vitae) of the Church's perennial teaching that contraception is always morally wrong, it is perhaps fitting that contraception, notwithstanding its widespread acceptance even among Catholics, is much in the news. The news has mainly had to do with the Trump administration's courageous decision to nullify the Obamacare "contraception" mandate, at least for those employers who conscientiously object to being made providers of drugs and devices including abortifacients, as well as the Pill, IUDs, and other simple contraceptives.

The administration's new regulations provide a total exemption from any legal duty to pay for these drugs and devices or even to facilitate their use in a remote way. My employer, the University of Notre Dame, is eligible to take that exemption. In fact, along with many other religious institutions, Notre Dame sued the United States several years ago to secure precisely that relief. And note well: these institutions sued for total exemption, even though they were already beneficiaries of an Obama-era "accommodation" that relieved them of any duty to directly fund or distribute contraception or abortifacients.

In its lawsuit, Notre Dame cited chapter and verse of Church teaching. Its pleadings and supporting papers amounted to a sound, and at times moving, argument that it would betray the faith if it were to accept even the watered-down involvement of the "accommodation." The University said, basically, that, to remain faithful to its beliefs, it could not be involved in any way whatsoever with a process designed to provide contraceptives to its employees, its students, or their dependents. Just so.

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