Students to Notre Dame: Drop lawsuit against mandate

Kathryn Pogin, a graduate student in philosophy at Notre Dame, wrote a letter to the president of the University of Notre Dame, arguing that the school should drop its lawsuit against the federal government’s requirement that employers’ health insurance plans cover contraception without copays.  When she ran a draft of it past her friends, they moved to turn it into a petition instead.  Way to be public philosophers!

Of course, Notre Dame’s position is that they have a Constitutional right to religious freedom.  I’d argue that this does not entail a Constitutional right to be an employer that doesn’t provide access to good health insurance coverage, and as a Jezebel blogger points out, “The government is only proposing that employees of a religious organization that is not a house of worship have access to birth control through insurance, not that the religious institution that employs them pay for that birth control itself.”

We’ll post updates as they occur.  In the meantime, and excitingly for philosophers, the result of Kathryn Pogin’s letter is that a high-traffic site like HuffPo offers arguments about the Doctrine of Double Effect!  More of this, please.  More public philosophy.  And thanks to all the Notre Dame students involved for moving to make it happen.


11 thoughts on “Students to Notre Dame: Drop lawsuit against mandate

  1. I’ve read Garnett’s piece. I’m one of many who disagree with him. It doesn’t help that he engages in my pet peeve, introducing a contentious claim with “in fact,” but mostly, of course, I disagree that the school is being asked to engage in “evil.” The whole point of the double-effect argument is that contraceptives are not, in and of themselves, evil. Those of us with excruciating and irregular periods who were prescribed these pills while sexually abstaining should have as much access to our medication as employees of Notre Dame have to Viagra.

  2. Beta, my understanding of Garnett is that he is *not* claiming that Notre Dame is being asked to engage in evil. Isn’t he saying that ND has a legal right to exemption even if the requirement it wants to be exempted from is not a requirement to engage in evil?

    (I share your peeve, though.)

  3. @jamiedreier, the only bit of his post that I thought indicated that clearly, was where he writes: “Finally, and going back to the ‘double effect’ point, I should be emphasized that requiring culpable cooperation with evil is not the only way that state action could burden religious-freedom rights, within the meaning of the First Amendment or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” but it wasn’t clear to me in what way exactly he thought religious freedom would be burdened if providing access is not evil.

  4. Beta, so far as I am aware, Notre Dame is not objecting to coverage of pills for the medicinal purposes you describe, even paid directly from its own plan. Am I mistaken?

  5. Nemo, you are not mistaken, but I think beta is still correct that those who need contraceptives for non-contraceptive medical purposes do not have equal access relative to those who wish to use Viagra: as the article said, at Notre Dame, one is not required to provide evidence that procuring Viagra will not enable morally illicit behavior according to Church teaching (i.e., no proof of marital status is required) nor is one required to provide evidence of a documented medical need. Women who wish to use contraceptives, though, are required to provide documentation of a non-contraceptive medical need in order to obtain them through the university’s health care plan.

  6. Speaking of Notre Dame cooperating with “evil”, I wonder if it recieves either directly or indirectly any funds from the Pentagon. Or has investments with companies that manufacture armaments of any kind.

    And of course there is nothing “evil” about the use of contraceptives. Indeed mature adult human beings should use a barrier method of contraception every time that they engage in an intimate sexual occasion when they do not intend that the woman become pregnant.

  7. Notre Dame is doing something appalling, conduct that calls for protest and petitions in response? I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you, to find that there’s gambling…

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