Conveniently Blind

Blind to moral consequences, #NotreDame will operationalize Fr. Jenkins's contraceptive culture through its wellness center. #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

The university has now disclosed the unsettling details of its contraception program. Coverage will include drugs that cause abortions; they will be prescribed and provided through the campus wellness center; and abortifacients will be provided free for several more months and cut-rate until the end of the year. The program is described in three online sources: FAQs for employees, FAQs for students, and a formulary of drugs and devices to be covered. This distressing episode becomes worse as the program unfolds.

Abortifacient effect of approved contraceptives.

In announcing his decision to include contraceptives in the University’s health plans for students and employees, Father Jenkins made a point of saying that only “simple contraceptives” would be covered — only those, that is, that “prevent conception.” No doubt he wanted people to believe that Notre Dame was not running afoul of the Church’s teachings on abortion: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception” (Catechism 2270).

But when it came time to specify the approved contraceptives, Father Jenkins’s “simple contraceptives” morphed into contraceptives whose “primary purpose is to prevent conception.

One immediately wonders what the unmentioned “secondary” purpose might be. Since that purpose is to cause abortions, it is scarcely surprising it was left unstated. The incriminating fact is that the many hormonal contraceptives covered in the Notre Dame plan have a “fail safe” abortifacient function. The American Life League explains that such contraceptives act as abortifacients when they fail to prevent conception because they alter the lining of the uterus “causing the woman’s body to reject the living human embryo.”

The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute concurs, declaring that if life begins at conception — as the Church of course teaches — “not just some hormonal methods but all of them” can cause abortions.

Now consider the first contraceptive in Notre Dame’s formulary and another chosen at random:

  • Altavera. “This combination hormone medication is used to prevent pregnancy. It contains 2 hormones: a progestin and an estrogen. It works mainly by preventing the release of an egg (ovulation) during your menstrual cycle. It also makes vaginal fluid thicker to help prevent sperm from reaching an egg (fertilization) and changes the lining of the uterus (womb) to prevent attachment of a fertilized egg. If a fertilized egg does not attach to the uterus, it passes out of the body.
  •  Levonorgestrol. “It works mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the womb (uterus).”

This taking of human life is called “embryocide,” and Notre Dame is evidently willing to facilitate it provided it is not as frequent as with the abortifacient “morning after” pills, which are excluded from the Nore Dame policies. It is a distinction without a principled difference.

The Continued Subsidization of Abortifacients

But Notre Dame is not by any means through with abortifacients. By delaying invoking the exemption from the Obamacare mandate offered last year by the Trump administration, Notre Dame is requiring its insurers to provide employees with abortifacients until July 1 and to students until August 15, when Notre Dame’s policies will take over, despite Father Jenkins’s declaration that these drugs “are most gravely objectionable in the Catholic tradition…because they involve the destruction of innocent human life.”

And even July 1 is not the end for employees. For the rest of the year Notre Dame will continue to provide cut-rate abortifacients to employees under the University’s Flexible Savings Account program. The University says this will end next year, but given Father Jenkins’s remarkable vacillation on these issues and the mounting pressure for even more contraceptive coverage we described in our last bulletin, one can scarcely count on this.

This dawdling in ending Notre Dame’s facilitation of “the destruction of innocent human life“ is hard to understand, to put it conservatively.

A Risible Pass at “Moral Formation”

Finally, the University has decided that, because of its “commitment in the context of its Catholic mission to the formation of undergraduates,” while contraception prescriptions may be filled through the campus Wellness Center for graduate students, undergraduates will have to use some other pharmacy.

That is to say, Notre Dame’s commitment to the formation of its undergraduates is only strong enough to avoid filling prescriptions for them, but not strong enough to prevent it from providing them insurance for contraceptives nor for avoiding the scandal associated with prescribing and selling contraceptives on campus to graduate students and employees. Surely it is fanciful to imagine that requiring undergraduates to walk to the nearby CVS to get the contraceptives the University provides through its plan will deter them from using them and engaging in the illicit sex they facilitate. Indeed, it seems fanciful to imagine the University really thinks anything of the sort.

We close as we began: This program gets worse as it unfolds. It is bound to. No good can come of a Catholic school’s decision to provide students and employees with instrumentalities that cause abortions and provide the means to commit actions the Church teaches are gravely sinful, not simply contraception but the fornication and adultery it facilitates.


Please join us in person or online at Reunion 2018 for a discussion of “The Church and Notre Dame” by Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C., Sarah Drumm (’18), Kevin Angell (’20), and Bill Dempsey (’52).

An award-winning historian and former chair of the History Department and Rector of Moreau Seminary, Fr. Miscamble, our principle speaker, has been a central figure in the debate about Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. He has recounted the earlier history of that debate in his book “For Notre Dame: Battling For the Heart and Soul of a Catholic University,” and at our breakfast he will discuss the current challenges to Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and ways to meet them.

Fr. Miscamble will be joined by Sarah Drumm, the past President of the student Right to Life club, Kevin Angell, the past Managing Editor of The Irish Rover and current Deputy Grand Knight of the Notre Dame Knights of Columbus, and Bill Dempsey, the President of Sycamore Trust.

The Church and Notre Dame
Saturday June 2, 2018
Conference Center at McKenna Hall
Room Lower Level
Complimentary breakfast opens at 7:15 a.m.
Program 8:00 am – 9:30 am


Join Our Petition Opposing Father Jenkins’s “Contraceptive Culture”

This is the fourth time Fr. Jenkins has publicly brushed off the objections of his and the University’s bishop, the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades. Recall The Vagina Monologues and Queer Film Festival and the honoring of President Obama and Vice President Biden. It is time for all alarmed by the growing breach between Notre Dame and the Church to speak up.

We invite all members of the Notre Dame community – alumni, students, family, faculty, staff – and all concerned Catholics to join the petition we have prepared urging the Fellows and the Trustees to maintain the existing exclusion of contraceptives from Notre Dame’s policies and to end promptly the provision and subsidy of abortifacients.