University continues to not offer reproductive services on campus

Despite many universities in Chicago offering reproductive services and contraception on campus, DePaul continues to ban the distribution of any contraception on campus.

According to Catholic doctrine from 1968, contraceptives “are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.” It also states that contraceptives taken after intercourse, known more commonly as the Plan B pill, are also excluded from being considered morally justifiable. 

In a memo from Eugene Zdziarski, DePaul vice president of Student Affairs, in 2018, he said contraceptives are considered “inappropriate materials.” 

“DePaul University reserves the right to restrict the distribution of medical or health supplies/devices items on university premises that it deems to be inappropriate from the perspective of the institution’s mission and values,” the memo said. “Specifically, the distribution of birth control devices, of any kind, is strictly prohibited on university premises.”

However, the current DePaul mission statement and values do not mention specific Catholic teachings, but rather focus on social justice. 

DePaul must follow Catholic doctrine and teachings as a Catholic-affiliated university, according to Zdziarski. 

“DePaul is a Catholic university and the Church’s teachings guide our practices,” Zdziarski said in an email to The DePaulia. “As is the case with other Catholic colleges, DePaul does not provide any birth control or contraception on campus.”

Despite this, DePaul does offer information on healthy relationships at their Office of Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW). According to its website, HPW offers courses and programs on healthy relationships and sexual violence prevention. 

Denial of contraceptive access also applies to faculty and staff at Catholic institutions. For example, at nearby universities like Loyola University Chicago, a Jesuit Catholic institution, university health insurance does not cover contraceptives, although those enrolled in the plan can get contraceptives at “no additional cost” through a separate Affordable Care Act plan. 

Health care policies from Catholic universities denying contraceptive access were bolstered by the Trump Administration era Supreme Court case, Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul vs. Pennsylvania, in which the court ruled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) allowed for religious institutions to deny contraceptive coverage on the basis of religious convictions. 

The University of Notre Dame’s student health services website encourages abstinence. However, Notre Dame offers students a health insurance plan, differing from DePaul who does not have a health insurance plan.

DePaul offers information on nearby sources regarding reproductive health and sexual health, including occasional Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) checks.

While the Catholic heritage at DePaul is known among the student body, exactly what that means for student healthcare and reproductive access can sometimes be taken for granted as a given.

“I knew [DePaul] was a Catholic school when I chose to go here,” said junior Blake Dreher. “I didn’t really think about what that would all entail, including contraceptives and abortions. I am very much pro-choice, and I do think that it is a little ridiculous given the generation that we’re in, and everything else DePaul is not super hardcore catholic about.”

Planned Parenthood Generation Action at DePaul hosted several “Pillow Talk” events throughout the year, aiming to help students learn about sexual health.

“I really like the Planned Parenthood Generation group on campus, and I know in the past that they have given out condoms,” Dreher said. 

According to Fr. Guillermo “Memo” Campuzano, vice president for Mission and Ministry at DePaul, DePaul actively encourages panels. He said the discussions further change discussion in the university. 

“We are contributing by having multiple conversations on campus, including inquiry, debate, and research, that quite possibly will influence the Church’s doctrine around this issue,” Campuzano said. “The Catholic Church evolves in its understanding and practices around many issues, and an educational institution like DePaul not only studies current doctrine but helps contribute toward future understanding that will influence these practices.”