05 March 2012

A Georgetown Activist Goes to Congress. God Help Us!

4 MARCH 2012. This is personal opinion. Ms. Fluke's comments made before House Democratic leaders that Georgetown University's failure to provide contraceptive coverage through its student health insurance is unfair to women - and, thus, should be remedied in law -- is an appalling statement that should not seriously be considered by anyone as a matter of establishing public policy. Let's be clear, Ms. Fluke's testimony did not really address the availability of drugs for women that have a contraceptive effect, but are intended primarily for non-contraceptive purposes. (Although, she did use as an example a case of polycystic ovary syndrome.) No. Ms. Fluke's testimony was that it is unfair that a female Georgetown law student would have to spend $3,000 of her own money over the course of a three year law school education on oral contraceptives. Her point is that the Obama administration's mandate on religiously affiliated institutions to require coverage for contraceptives is right.

Wrong. The mandate is wrong. Ms. Fluke is wrong.

Georgetown University is a Catholic university. The first and foremost role of a Catholic university is to be Catholic. Some Catholic universities are highly regarded and among the academic elite institutions in our country. That does not mean that those institutions, including Georgetown and Notre Dame, have any less of a responsibility to be--first and foremost--Catholic. God knows there are enough amoral, anything-goes-in-the-name-of-academic-freedom universities that enjoy the accolades of those considered (by themselves and sometimes others) as the academic or intellectual elite.

Georgetown University is Catholic. It should be affirmed as Catholic.

If a student is not Catholic, she or he must accept the fact that the institution he or she is considering attending is Catholic in deciding whether to matriculate there. If later that student comes to odds with the institution because the institution is, indeed, Catholic, that student is free to go elsewhere.

Democrats have tried to turn opposition to the HHS mandate into a debate over so-called reproductive health, and some have said that the issue, in fact, has nothing to do with religious freedom. Those who push these dishonest views are partisans--pure and simple. That line of argument, disingenuous and wrong as it may be, is designed to do nothing more that paint the Church as mean and anti-woman. This incredible argument seeks to paint conservatives as mean and anti-woman. Not true. Not true. Not true.

This debate has everything to do with religious freedom. This is not a debate over what coverages Wal-Mart must offer in its employee health plans. This is a debate over what coverages the Church and its institutions must offer, or pay for its insurance carriers to provide, as a part of its employee health plans. The Church's position on contraception, abortion, sterilization and the like could not be more clear. (Scandalously, Representative Pelosi disregards these fundamental teachings on the dignity of human life and human sexuality in the name of her personal agenda of choice.)

These issues are fundamentally moral issues. The Church has the right to speak to moral issues and it has done so courageously for 2,000 years. The Church affirms the dignity of all people, men and women alike. To say the Church is anti-woman is plain ignorance (or outright bigotry). There is no institution in the world that more steadfastly affirms the dignity of women, as women--created in the image and likeness of God.

Of course, this opinion piece cannot escape discussing the comments of Rush Limbaugh. Rush's comments about Ms. Fluke were also wrong: dead wrong. His crass and degrading comments lacked Christian charity and were obviously intended to incite the partisan emotions of his listeners, not address the truth of the matter. Rush has apologized, as he should, but social conservatives should take care to condemn the lack of charity being shown Ms. Fluke and stick to the issue: the HHS mandate is an unconstitutional abridgment of religious freedom.

The HHS mandate is extreme.

The HHS mandate is wrong.

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