April 17, 2012
In the wake of Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute sponsoring a Sandra Fluke speaking engagement yesterday, President DeGioia received an open letter signed by over 100 concerned current students and alumni. The letter requested clarity on the Catholic university's policy, as it relates to contraception in light of misinformation spread by Fluke and supporters in the media and in her testimony before the U.S. House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.
Here are some excerpts:
"[T]he recent debate regarding the provision of contraceptive services to women by Catholic religious institutions has spurred misconceptions regarding Georgetowns insurance policy and warrants a clarification of issues, particularly because of comments made by Ms. Sandra Fluke in her testimony before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. The primary issue is whether religious institutions such as Georgetown University should be mandated to provide contraceptive services."
"As men and women for others, we condemn the offensive comments made over the past few months against one of our fellow Hoyas..."
"Many university students seem to be unaware of both the Catholic Churchs teaching on providing hormonal prescriptions for medical conditions and the universitys exception within its insurance policy for such conditions. It is important that students of this university are informed of these facts. If there have been incidents where female students have not received adequate medical care after following proper procedures in filling out a waiver for an exemption for such services, this is an independent matter that should be addressed."
"[R]ecent activism on campus such as heightened requests to alter the universitys policy on this issue, the presence of Planned Parenthood on campus, and pressure for the university to immediately implement coverage for contraception in Georgetowns Student Health Insurance Plan, foregoing the allowed extension until August 2013, have caused concern among many students and alumni who support the universitys commitment to its Catholic identity. Particularly disturbing is the fact that the university is providing a forum in Gaston Hall for Ms. Sandra Fluke to promote her views which are contrary to Church teaching. If an equal opportunity is not provided for the virtues of the Church's teachings on sexuality and contraception to be presented, any hope of an adequately informed student body will be lost and we will have not achieved a true dialogue."
"Georgetown supports students who are members of the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, and Georgetown Right to Life, as well as the hundreds of pro-life students from around the country who gather for the Cardinal OConnor Conference on Life held in Gaston Hall on the day before the March for Life. In addition, Nellie Gray (founder of the March for Life), Cardinal John J. O'Connor, (founder of the Sisters of Life), and Rep. Henry Hyde (crafter of the Hyde Amendment) are all alumni of the university. Students for Life of America, University Faculty for Life (founded by Fr. Thomas King, S.J.), and the College Pregnancy Resource Forum were all founded at Georgetown. Some students may choose to attend Georgetown precisely because of its commitment to Catholic teaching and its rich legacy in support of the pro-life movement."
"It would be prudent for the university to release a statement clarifying its position on this fundamental issue of debate so that all students are properly informed of both the details of the universitys insurance policy and its commitment to this policy in light of Church teaching. At the least, a statement clarifying misconceptions should be made. Informed debate is healthy and can be productive, but debate unsupported by adequate knowledge can often result in emotional responses that are unproductive and lead to unnecessary division and misunderstanding. Faith and reason can only work together if students are adequately informed."
The text of the entire letter can be read here.