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Letter to the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J.

March 1st, 2012

We, the faculty of John Carroll University named below, are committed to freedom of conscience and religious liberty. We believe that the American Catholic bishops have the right to proclaim Catholic teaching vigorously and loudly. However, we also believe that access to contraception is central to the health and well being of women and children. This is why the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society of Adolescent Medicine, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association have all recommended family planning services as part of preventive health care regiments for women.

Some of us did not think the Obama administration needed to revise the HHS guidelines on mandated insurance coverage of contraception; others believed that the guidelines needed revision. However, we all are troubled that the bishops have chosen a path of continued confrontation. The fact that the bishops have rejected the accommodation offered by the administration leads us to wonder what motivates their continued resistance.

The American bishops have accused the Obama administration of attacking religious liberty in mandating insurance coverage of contraception. On the contrary, we believe the insurance mandate is driven by concern for women’s health. Despite the rhetoric being used by opponents of the mandate and the accommodation, we should not lose sight of the fact that the Institute of Medicine recommended insurance coverage of contraception without cost-sharing or deductibles because unplanned pregnancies harm the health of women and children and lead to more abortions.

We believe that the faculty and the administration of John Carroll University need to take a stand in the face of the bishops’ unwillingness to accept the accommodation offered by the Obama administration. We thus ask that, along with the president of other Catholic and Jesuit universities, you urge the bishops to avoid the inflammatory rhetoric they have been using to attack the administration’s policy. We ask that you stand up to those who would play politics with women’s health. We ask that you endorse a policy of insurance coverage of contraception that respects the religious liberties and health of all who teach and work at Catholic colleges and universities.

 

Sincerely,

 

Paul Lauritzen, professor, Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Jim Lissemore, associate professor and chair, biology department

Founding faculty member of JCU population and public health minor

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