WASHINGTON, November 30, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The historically Catholic Fordham University has become the latest battleground in the showdown over contraception.
Law Students for Reproductive Justice, a student-led group, organized an off-campus birth control clinic on Wednesday to protest the Jesuit university’s allegedly misleading policies about insurance coverage of birth control.
Although the university’s student insurance policy is required to cover birth control and contraceptives under New York state law, it does not dispense the items at any campus health center.
Critics such as Bridgette Dunlap complain of the “extra costs for birth control,” including condoms, which they must purchase off-campus. They also believe the language of the university’s website is ambiguous about the availability of contraceptive services on campus.
Fordham University communications director Bob Howe strongly disagrees. He writes that while the school “may in fact edit the web copy to be more specific,” it is not deliberately vague or misleading; “we don’t itemize non-birth control services on the website, either.”
Fordham adheres to the directives issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in its “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” which instructs, “Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices.” Fordham University’s Mission Statement states, “the physicians, nurse practitioners, and staff of the Health Center abide by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.” It then links to the USCCB document in full.
Howe said Fordham’s practices should not surprise anyone. “Fordham is a Catholic university and follows church teachings on reproductive issues. We’re sure that our students are well aware of Fordham’s Jesuit, Catholic identity: it is central to our mission, and is featured prominently on our website and in our publications.”
Dunlap retorted, “Well, I knew I went to a Catholic school, but I didn’t know I went to that kind of Catholic school.”
“Two things are clear,” Reilly said. “Fordham has set an important example by refusing to provide or prescribe contraceptives. But no Jesuit university should be hosting a pro-abortion student club. To some extent, they have opened the door to this type of activity.”
Reilly said the university seems confused about whether Fordham officially recognizes LSRJ. Either way, the group pledges to remain active in promoting its anti-life, pro-contraceptive agenda. Its university-hosted website states its members take part in “brownbags with reproductive rights activists, an ongoing escort program in partnership with Planned Parenthood of New York City, [and] a research partnership with local pro-choice legal organizations.”
Reilly said the university continues to tolerate these violations by its students. “Fordham told us that the fact that this is being done off-campus means that they can’t do anything about it,” he said. “That’s precisely the problem today in much of Catholic higher education: that there are no expectations of students, even when they are promoting gravely immoral evils.”
Some of the university’s officially sanctioned actions have alarmed faithful observers. The Cardinal Newman Society named Fordham as one of 15 Catholic universities that hosted anti-life or anti-family speakers in 2011.
The school invited New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the new law school’s groundbreaking in May, despite the mayor’s belief that “reproductive choice is a fundamental human right… On this issue, you’re either with us or against us.”
The GSB Insider, the publication of Fordham’s Graduate School of Business, advertised a job opening at Planned Parenthood in November 2009.