This petition has been organized by Irish 4 Reproductive Health (I4RH), an independent organization of undergraduate and graduate students advocating for reproductive justice at the University of Notre Dame and in our surrounding community. I4RH believes that everyone in the Notre Dame community deserves access to all FDA-approved forms of contraception, including the many iterations of the pill, the ring, IUDs, implants, emergency contraception, and non-prescription barrier methods.
The most recent overhaul of our insurance policy, announced by Father Jenkins (goo.gl/sc3wG7
) on February 7, 2018 and partially elaborated by University Health Services (goo.gl/89RmQA
) 11:55 p.m. on March 25, 2018, violates this firm belief. Many people will struggle to access their needed or preferred method of care under this new policy, which excludes copper IUDs and emergency contraception--and possibly other methods as well. These significant changes also impose copayments for contraceptive services, costs we would not incur had the Contraceptive Services Payment Plan remained in place. In certain cases, copayment (goo.gl/cosJH6
) will be as high as 40% of the device or medication. Those who need to have devices replaced while on Notre Dame insurance will now bear the cost of those appointments, as well as a portion of the cost of the new device. The administration made these significant changes behind closed doors, opting to heed the guidance of unnamed advisors rather than the broader population of students, faculty, and staff who are directly affected by this decision--despite Fr. Jenkins’s previous acknowledgment that so many in our community rely on “the use of such drugs and rely on the University for health care benefits.”
We demand clarity on key aspects of these insurance changes.The FAQ published by Notre Dame UHS is insufficient. Rather than immediately clarifying the details of the new insurance policies, Notre Dame plans to release a plan summary on July 15th, 2018–well after incoming undergraduate and graduate students have committed to their programs. Such a delay fails to provide adequate time for those who depend on the Notre Dame insurance plan to financially prepare themselves for these changes, or find alternatives to receiving healthcare at Notre Dame.
We need clear answers to the following questions:
1. Why must we now pay copays for our contraceptive medications and devices and the appointments needed to obtain them? Before our deductibles (which are higher than deductibles at many of our peer institutions) have been met, what portion of the cost of appointments and medications will be covered by insurance?
2. What are the grounds for the discrepancy in healthcare access between undergraduate and graduate students? The University’s “commitment in the context of its Catholic mission to the formation of undergraduates” does not entitle it to treat undergraduate students as children incapable of making conscientious choices about their own bodies.
3. Which specific IUDs and implants will be available under these new policy changes? How much will the copay be for the appointments associated with obtaining those devices and for the devices themselves, both before and after deductibles have been satisfied?
4. Why is emergency contraception—which functions by preventing or delaying ovulation and does not cause abortion—being removed from insurance coverage? Without insurance, emergency contraception is $35-$60 per pill. Survivors of sexual assault may especially need unobstructed access to emergency contraception, and should not be forced to incur unnecessary costs for medical care.
5. Does it not violate individuals’ right to follow their consciences for Notre Dame to prevent its employees from using their Health Flex accounts—money that comes directly out of their salaries—for care such as vitro fertilization, vasectomies, and sterilization?
We want Notre Dame to become an increasingly diverse community. This means that everyone must be able to access their chosen contraceptive method rather than just using the method they can afford. Restrictions on our reproductive healthcare options amount to a direct barrier to inclusion (goo.gl/3FLsGA
), a barrier that intersects with gender, class, religion, and socioeconomic status. Moreover, the lack of transparency (goo.gl/Q33oQq
) that has characterized the administration’s every move on this issue since October 2017 is disrespectful to the employees and students who form the Notre Dame community.
We, the undersigned members of the University of Notre Dame community, demand answers to the questions enumerated in this petition in the form of a public statement no later than close of business on Friday, May 4, 2018. We have spent enough time in upheaval as a result of inappropriate attempts to control our access to reproductive healthcare. Furthermore, we demand an apology for the unprofessional and disorienting manner in which all of this has been handled, which has impeded our work and progress toward the degrees we came to Notre Dame to obtain.