The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Sandra Fluke appearance sparks birth control debate


Birth control mandates: Ah, I can see the straw men already.
It’s much easier to take a side on this argument when you assume that one group can all be portrayed in the same light as the slut-shaming Rush Limbaugh and the other a monolithic bunch of angry leftists proclaiming a “war on women.” But because I enjoy actual thought, I’m not going to make such assumptions today.

Personally, I don’t see why this is even an issue anymore. In January religious groups and conservative politicians alike were outraged to hear that as part of the Obama administration’s new health care law, religiously affiliated charities and universities would be required to pay for contraceptives for both their students and employees. Catholics, who as part of their religious doctrine do not believe in the use of contraception in any of its forms, argued that this was an abridgment of their religious liberty and lobbied for the White House to change the policy.

So President Barack Obama, being the anti-religious tyrant that he is, decided to… do exactly that. Now, if employees of religiously affiliated schools and universities want contraceptives, they have to go through their insurance companies to get them as a side benefit.

It seems to me that the problem now is that religious institutions, which generally provide some sort of health insurance for their employees and/or students, now feel as though by offering insurance at all they’re aiding people’s ability to get contraception.

The fact that they’re not the ones paying for it directly anymore does nothing to abate their concerns. For them, the problem is people being able to get any kind of birth control, even if their association is only by proxy.

This has led to some schools like Franciscan University of Steubenville to stop offering health insurance plans altogether.

I can understand why Catholics would be concerned about the administration’s original ruling. I commend President Obama and his administration for compromising. And I really think that ought to be the end of this inquiry. The only “right” that Catholic schools and institutions are being denied at this point is a right to deny people birth control.

Under the president’s accommodation, they’re not the ones even paying for the contraceptives anymore. Furthermore, not everyone who works for Catholic schools or attends them is a Catholic. They depend on the school’s insurance too. Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, said that people who attend or work at Catholic institutions should know what they’re getting into; after all, “No one would go to a Jewish barbecue and expect pork chops to be served.”

Fair point. However, while I’m not the biggest fan of absolute statements, I can’t think of any circumstances where someone’s life was seriously altered or jeopardized from a lack of pork chops.

The same cannot be said for a lack of birth control. Would it surprise you to know that many women use birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy? Would it also surprise you to know that surveys have shown 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptives (mirroring the general population)?

The solution to the birth control problem from the perspective of those offended by Obama’s law seems simple: if you want to prevent pregnancy, stop having sex and wait until marriage.

And Catholics, as part of their religious liberty, have every right to preach that message.

However, they don’t have a right to force it on both their congregants and people not even affiliated with their faith. Freedom of religion does not entail a freedom to coerce others to live how you want them to.

Bub is a junior majoring in English, political science and history.


The fight for women’s rights is nothing new, but in the last year or so an aspect most never even thought about has come to be a polarizing issue: Who pays for a woman’s birth control?

Sandra Fluke, former Georgetown law student and recent SMU guest lecturer, made this a salient issue when she brought before members of Congress the case that her private, Catholic Church affiliated school would not include birth control for non-medical uses in its insurance plan it offered to students. This means that the insurance would only cover it if the woman’s need to take said medication were for a reason other than birth control. (endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc).

This debate was magnified due to the fact that it was of importance to the fairly recently passed Affordable Care Act. According to the act, religious colleges and hospitals (but not churches themselves) would be required to offer preventive healthcare that includes contraceptive coverage with no deductibles or co-pays.

What this means is that despite moral qualms, Catholic institutions such as Georgetown University would be required to provide women like Fluke and her classmates coverage for contraception no matter their reason for wanting it. The claim is that the issue of public health is of greater importance than the religious freedom on which this country was founded. What many take issue with is the fact that people who are at institutions such as Georgetown know going in that Catholics do not support the use of such contraceptives and that if they need them covered by insurance so badly, perhaps they should look elsewhere for coverage and/ or education.

What this issue has been stripped down to is what the liberal media is referring to as “the war on women” with the Republican Party as the chief offender. According to those who believe birth control should be more readily available to women and at more affordable rates is the idea that this is a preventative healthcare measure that women have a right to and to deny them this for any reason is blatant gender discrimination.

However, I would counter that this in fact is not a gender rights issue as Fluke and friends would have the American people believe. No, this is once again an issue of the left’s sense of entitlement. A medication that is available at many pharmacies for as little as $9 should be handed to them free at someone else’s expense with no regard to their position on the morality of contraception.

Fluke’s argument is invalid due to the fact that the insurance provided by Georgetown was willing to cover medically necessary contraception but, regardless of marital status, not if its purpose was solely birth control. As most everyone knows, the Catholic Church does not openly condone premarital sex or the use of birth control at any time. Seeking to put mandates on a group that would cause them to go against their personal morals to finance your extracurricular activities is in itself blatant discrimination.

To suggest that insurance should fully cover a product that someone who has made the conscious choice to be sexually active deems necessary is ludicrous. Nothing in this life is free. If you are mature enough to make that choice, you are mature enough to find a way to pay for birth control. If not, there are a variety of other resources at a woman’s disposal that women used for years before a magic little pill appeared on the market.

The idea of feminism is that a woman is in charge of her own life and body and dependent on no one for her own well-being and success. Would it not speak much more highly of their agenda if they empowered women to be financially responsible for their own birth control rather than reliant on others as their means of obtaining it?

Dunn is a junior majoring in political science. 

More to Discover