Notre Dame Sues Over Birth Control Mandate

[Content note: institutional misogyny, anti-reproductive rights rhetoric]

The University of Notre Dame is one of 43 Catholic institutions filing suit in an attempt to overturn the requirement that their insurance plans cover reproductive healthcare. As usual, Archbishop Timothy Dolan has super-helpful things to say about this:

Time is running out, and our precious ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now,” he said in a statement.

"Our precious ministries" include, presumably, the Ministry of Ballsportgames at Notre Dame which is OBVIOUSLY played in a uniquely Catholic fashion (insert ALL the Hail Mary pass jokes) as a ministry to the Catholic faithful.

Yes, it's a cheap shot (insert ALL the free throw jokes), but the sports program at Notre Dame is only the most visible part of what should be transparently obvious about several of the of the sueing institutions: hospitals and universities do not pass the federal government's test for giving religious exemptions with good reason. These are not parish churches employing 90% Roman Catholics and serving 100% Roman Catholics, existing primarily as institutions of Roman Catholic worship. They employ and serve huge numbers of non-Catholics, providing services that are not tied particularly closely to Catholic theology. Should they win a "religious exemption," then the religious exemption is so broad as to render the reproductive services mandate basically meaningless.

But the mendacious asshattry doesn't end there. I'm very fond of this quote from Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, written in a letter to alumni quoted at Jezebel:

Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services. Many of our faculty, staff and students — both Catholic and non-Catholic — have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives. As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs. And we believe that, if the Government wishes to provide such services, means are available that do not compel religious organizations to serve as its agents.

Where to start? As Erin notes in her piece, no-one is "compelling" religious organizations to force birth control on anyone, so the claim that Catholic organizations are serving as "agents" is a laughable lie. But I find the second part, wherein Jenkins claims that there are ALL THESE OTHER WAYS to provide birth control, almost as astonishing. Really, Father Jenkins? What do you suggest? More funding for Planned Parenthood? Because we know what big fans the Bishops are of that particular organization! They won't be getting birth control from Catholic hospitals, especially if your lawsuits are successful. Maybe from secular hospitals that have taken over failed Catholic hospitals? Whoooops your ridiculous zombie birth control restrictions! Yes, there are definitely many ways to provide reproductive services that your Church leadership is happy with!

There are probably many more observations to be made about this situation, but I am too amazed to make them. Have at it in comments.

[Commenting Note: Please take care when commenting to distinguish between Church leadership and "Catholics," many of whom are appalled by the statements and actions of Archbishop Dolan and his colleagues.]

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