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Coalition forms to advance the sexual revolution at Catholic universities nationwide

Student Coalition for Reproductive Justice delivers condoms and Plan B

“What do you do when your college isn’t throwing condoms at you?” ask students at six Catholic universities in a GoFundMe page created for a new “reproductive justice” student alliance.

Their answer? Hand out condoms themselves.

On May 29, students at Georgetown, Notre Dame, Loyola Chicago, Fordham, Santa Clara and DePaul universities announced the formation of the Student Coalition for Reproductive Justice, a national organization of student groups that hand out condoms, lubricant, dental dams and Plan B at Catholic universities.

Christina Frasik, a medical student and graduate of Loyola University Chicago, and one of the co-founders of the coalition, told The College Fix that the organization’s long-term goal is to lobby these universities to “take on the responsibility” of handing out contraceptives themselves.

Five of the universities in the coalition have official rules against condom distributions or have stated students could face disciplinary action for condom distributions. Despite this possibility of disciplinary action, students at Georgetown, Notre Dame, Loyola, Fordham, and DePaul have distributed condoms to fellow students over the past year.

So far, Plan B is only distributed at Georgetown, something the new alliance states it hopes to change. Catholic teaching gravely condemns emergency contraceptives like Plan B beyond their contraceptive effect for potentially inducing abortion. The Catholic Church holds that Plan B’s possible effect of preventing the implantation of an already fertilized egg is “really nothing other than a chemically induced abortion.”

But the Student Coalition for Reproductive Justice seeks to expand the distribution of Plan B at Catholic universities, Frasik told The College Fix.

“The expansion of emergency contraception services is a long term goal for SCRJ and of interest to many of our other student groups,” she said.

The coalition takes aim at universities that largely decline to provide contraceptives for religious convictions based upon Pope St. Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. However, Georgetown uses a third party to fund prescription contraceptives and Notre Dame began providing prescription contraceptives directly to individuals other than undergraduates in August 2018.

Irish 4 Reproductive Health at Notre Dame distributed condoms publicly on campus in the spring of 2018. The group held up a sign and shouted “free condoms!” while giving out condoms near a classroom building. Another distribution was accompanied by a chalk drawing that read “Nuvaring by spring”—which places the contraceptive device into the saying “ring by spring,” which refers to getting engaged by spring of senior year.

Irish 4 Reproductive Health launched a condom delivery service over Snapchat in October 2018 in which a “condom courier” delivers condoms, internal condoms, and lubricant three nights a week to students’ dorm lobbies upon request.

At Georgetown University, H*yas for Choice delivers condoms, lubricant, dental dams and Plan B to students, and hands out condoms at the university’s free speech square. The group told The College Fix they give out over 10,000 condoms a semester.

In September 2018, H*yas for Choice began delivering emergency contraceptives. The group told The College Fix they have distributed Plan B to more than 200 Georgetown students and have guided multiple other organizations in creating emergency contraceptive programs.

Officials at Notre Dame and Georgetown previously stated they would threaten disciplinary action against those who distributed condoms on campus. These statements came in 2013 in response to a backlash against Boston College for threatening “disciplinary action” if students continued distributing condoms. In support of Boston College, officials at Notre Dame and Georgetown stated their policies aligned with Boston College’s and they would proceed in a similar manner if condom distributions occurred on their campuses, according to the Boston Globe.

The Fix asked Notre Dame’s Vice President for Public Affairs and Communication Paul Browne if Notre Dame intends to take any action against the condom distributions by Irish 4 Reproductive Health. He only replied that it was not allowed.

“Students not affiliated with a recognized student group area are also prohibited from engaging in any type of merchandising activity without permission, regardless of product,” Browne said, adding: “No permission has been sought or granted.”

Notre Dame’s statement to the Boston Globe in 2013 that they would threaten disciplinary action for condom distributions seems to be empty, as the widely known condom Snapchat service, which was featured in the student newspaper in January, has expanded to additional products and nights per week to keep up with demand.

Officials at Georgetown University appear to have backed down from past threats of disciplinary action as well. They told the Huffington Post later in 2013 regarding the condom distributions: “We respect the rights of our students to join outside groups as individuals and believe this activity falls within that context.”

Students for Reproductive Justice at DePaul University has operated a “Text Jane” condom distribution service since October of 2017. The group at DePaul is particularly defiant because they violate the university’s handbook statement that the “distribution of birth control devices, of any kind, is strictly prohibited on university premises.” DePaul University did not respond to a request for comment on whether they would pursue disciplinary action in response.

Similarly, Students for Sex and Gender Equity and Safety at Fordham University delivers condoms on campus through a call-in system in defiance of a specific student handbook rule forbidding contraceptive distributions on university property.

Students at Loyola University Chicago have also distributed condoms during the past year, but their service operates off campus due to university notifications that they were conflicting with the school’s Catholic mission when distributing on campus.

MORE: Student group delivers condoms, pregnancy tests on Catholic campus

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About the Author
Ellie Gardey -- University of Notre Dame