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Inside Higher Ed has obtained a copy of a letter signed by numerous John Carroll University faculty, pitting religious liberty and freedom of conscience against women’s health:

“We, the faculty of John Carroll University named below, are committed to freedom of conscience and religious liberty. We believe that the American Catholic bishops have the right to proclaim Catholic teaching vigorously and loudly. However, we also believe that access to contraception is central to the health and well being of women and children . . . we are all troubled that the bishops have chosen a path of continued confrontation. The fact that the bishops have rejected the accommodation offered by the administration leads us to wonder what motivates their continued resistance.”

The heated discourse surrounding the mandate generally centers around the competition between two concepts, religious liberty and women’s health. The rhetorical move to include free access to contraceptives and abortifacients in the term “women’s health” is, progressives hope, an effective way to silence those in opposition of the mandate: No one wants to be thought of as against women’s health. The appropriation of the term in favor of the mandate has obvious political value. But the burden of proof is on its advocates to show exactly how and when contraceptives and abortifacients became “central to the health and well being of women and children.”

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