Kudos to Father Jenkins

by Michael Sean Winters

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There is an assumption in certain political circles that if the HHS mandate regarding contraception and sterilization in all insurance plans does not include a broader conscience exemption, somehow Catholic institutions will learn to get along. But, in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Father John Jenkins, CSC, President of Notre Dame, makes a very telling point. He writes, "This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church's moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church's social teaching. It is an impossible position."

Father Jenkins makes a point that had not previously occured to me - or to anyone else whose writings on this topic I have seen. It is just as morally objectionable to stop providing health care coverage as it is to provide coverage for procedures we find morally objectionable.

Politically, of course, Father Jenkins' letter carries great weight. He took plenty of (metaphorical) bullets for his decision to invite President Obama to give the commencement address at Notre Dame. He is not in any way, shape or form an "opponent" of the administration. He is asking that Notre Dame, and other religious institutions, be permitted to keep doing what they have long done: provide health care coverage to their employees and students that does not include coverage for procedures that are morally objectionable. To be clear, it is Planned Parenthood and their ilk who are trying to change the rules of the road here, not us. Why would the Obama adminsitration try and put someone like Jenkins in "an impossible situation." They should focus on putting John Boehner and those who are opposed to the very idea of universal health insurance into an impossible position, not Notre Dame.

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