Monday, November 24, 2014

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Georgetown Will Offer Contraceptive Coverage to Employees, Not Students

The president of Georgetown University announced in an email that student plans will not be adjusted to include coverage of birth control this year, but the Jesuit university is going to go right on providing that same coverage to employees, according to the Catholic News Agency. Mind you, President John DeGioia inexplicably cited the university's "Catholic identity" while saying so. According to the CNA:
In an April 26 email to the university community, President John J. DeGioia said that after “thoughtful and careful consideration,” the administration has decided to “continue our current practice for contraceptive coverage in our student health insurance for the coming year.” DeGioia also said the university will not change its approach to contraceptive coverage for employees in 2013. Georgetown’s current student health plan does not cover birth control for contraceptive purposes. But according to the National Women’s Law Center, employees of the university can choose between multiple plans, including some that include birth control coverage. In February, a Georgetown University spokesperson confirmed to left-leaning blog ThinkProgress that employees have access to insurance plans that cover contraceptives. The school's media office, however, did not respond to CNA’s inquiries about this discrepancy.
All this comes in light of the Obama administration’s controversial contraception mandate, requiring Catholic colleges to offer health insurance plans that cover birth control, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs that will go into effect next year unless something changes. In recent weeks, many students petitioned the university to change its student health plans to include access to contraception. Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, who has been an outspoken advocate of forcing religious institutions to provide coverage for contraceptives, was given an opportunity to speak at the university. Many believed that was a mistake for a Catholic institution, especially given the fact that another point of view (a Catholic one) was not offered at the event. Following this event, DeGioia took the opportunity to clarify the University’s position and said the student plan “is consistent with our Catholic and Jesuit identity." No word yet on why the aforementioned "Catholic identity" doesn't apply to  employee plans.There does not appear to be any District of Columbia mandate that contraception and sterilization be included in employee plans (see summaries of state laws by the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the National Women's Law Center). DeGioia said in his email that the University "will be monitoring further regulatory and judicial developments related to the Affordable Care Act." Does that mean Georgetown will be on the sidelines while Catholic colleges with a fraction of the resources of Georgetown like Belmont Abbey College and Ave Maria University do all the heavy lifting in the fight for religious liberty? No word yet on how that fits in with Georgetown's Catholic identity either. Note: Full text of DeGioia's letter can be found at Commentary Magazine.

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