Updated on February 7 at 8:40 a.m. EST
Notre Dame has decided to ban “abortion-inducing drugs” from third-party-provided insurance plans. It will also begin providing coverage for “simple contraceptives” in the university plan.* The move was announced in a letter from its president, Father John Jenkins, to the university community on Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear which drugs the ban entails, such as the morning-after pill, IUDs, or other long-acting contraceptives. That list will be available in March, a spokesperson confirmed. The school’s arrangement will still allow access to contraceptives, but will discontinue coverage of any drugs that would “kill a fertilized egg,” according to the spokesperson. These drugs “are far more gravely objectionable in Catholic teaching,” Jenkins wrote in the letter.
This decision is Notre Dame’s latest attempt to balance its Catholic character with the demands of pluralism within its community. Over 17,000 people are covered by the university’s health plans, including faculty, staff, students, and their family members. “On one hand, there’s a danger of diluting any distinctiveness by accommodating everyone on everything,” Jenkins said in an interview on Tuesday. “You just become a generic university. On the other hand, there’s a danger of rigidity in adhering to certain tenets that make the institution more narrow.” The school’s controversial, zig-zagging search for the right policy on birth-control coverage shows how challenging it is for religious universities to navigate the competing demands of their missions. And the saga is likely not over yet.