FCLC Community Sounds Off on Contraceptive Availability

Pope Speaks Out Against Contraceptive Distribution in Africa; Fordham Students React to Lack of Condoms on Campus


Published: April 9, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI announced in March that distributing condoms in Africa contributes to the spread of of HIV/AIDS. His statement has been the subject of great debate, echoing a current controversy on the accessibility of contraception in Catholic universities. Some Fordham students said they believe that condoms should be available on campus despite the University’s religious affiliation.

Hayden Hartnett, FCLC ’12, said, “The same logic that applies to preaching only abstinence in Africa and the developing world applies to college students. It will not prevent them from having sex.”

Many Catholic universities nationwide have a policy against providing contraceptives to students. While Fordham does provide STD testing, it does not provide condoms and will only prescribe birth control pills to students who need them for medical purposes.

Katie LeCapitain, FCLC ’12, said, “It seems as though the University is providing damage control as opposed to damage prevention and is thus not adequately addressing the needs of the student body.”

Matthew Ortiz, FCLC ’12, stressed the fact that students are going to have sex regardless of the University’s religious affiliation.

“Rather than pretending as though it isn’t happening, a more proactive measure would be to provide contraceptives to at least preserve the health of students,” he said.

Bridget Cahalan, FCLC ’12,  said, “If the students are responsible enough to have sex, they should be responsible enough to purchase their own condoms. As a Catholic university, we follow the papal order, which advocates against the use of contraceptives. This isn’t a new policy… Regardless of one’s background, be it religious or not, by choosing a Catholic university, this is simply a procedure one must accept.”

Cahalan said that she agrees with Pope Benedict’s statement about the distribution of condoms in Africa.

“Providing contraceptives simply encourages a problem that could be eradicated by no longer engaging in pre-marital sexual activity,” she said.

Meagan Decker, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’10, said, “I think it [is] ridiculous that Fordham doesn’t provide condoms.”

As a Jesuit university, part of the school’s mission statement includes cura personalis, care of the whole person.

Ryan O’Toole, FCLC ’12, said, “As an American university that fosters a diversity of backgrounds and ideas and personal choices, it is an outrage that Fordham does not provide proper health care to students. It is a disgrace for an institution which claims to pride itself on the cura personalis to neglect such prevalent health issues.”

LeCapitain said that she believes that “it is possible to take health and safety into consideration by providing access to contraceptives without advocating pre-marital sex or sexual promiscuity.”

Keith Eldredge, dean of students at FCLC, said that he feels that despite not offering contraceptives on campus, Fordham provides ample information for students to take care of their sexual health.

“It would be great to say, ‘Oh, we’re a Catholic school so none of our students ever engage in sexual intercourse before marriage because that’s what Catholics preach,’” Eldredge said.

Eldredge called that thinking naïve but pointed out the fact that obtaining contraception off-campus is “convenient and accessible.” He said, “Duane Reade is right down the street…there are resources in the city.”

Holly Hughes, FCLC ’12, said, “I don’t necessarily know that it’s our school’s responsibility to provide [contraception] for us. It’s easy enough for me to go to my doctor outside of school. It’s none of the school’s business what I do with my sex life.”

Eldredge said, “The Catholic view is that sexual relations are designed between a man and a woman in a martial relationship, and so, given that [most of] our population [is not married], there’s no need to provide condoms to students because it would be going against the Church… I think it’s a message of saying, ‘This is what the Catholic Church is teaching, we support that teaching, we’re not going to do anything to contradict that teaching.’”