I’m responding to an article I read earlier arguing that SLU should provide birth control to students because, to paraphrase the writing, SLU shouldn’t force adherence to Catholic doctrine, it’s unfair to enforce only some Catholic doctrines, and students will want to lie to obtain birth control. As a philosophy major, I take issues with this reasoning and want to address it.
The idea that SLU not providing birth control forces students to follow Catholic teaching is faulty. The act of one not doing something is distinctly different than the act of forcing another to do something. If a vegetarian came into my house and stole my hamburgers, he/she forces me to comply with his/her beliefs. If I ate at a vegetarian’s house and wasn’t provided hot dogs, the vegetarian doesn’t force me to conform but only follows his/her own beliefs. To make him/her serve meat is enforcing beliefs on him/her. In the same way it would be a forcing of belief to require a Catholic university to provide something the Catechism says “is intrinsically evil” (CCC 2730).
The piece claimed it’s unfair to enforce only some Catholic beliefs. Again, this isn’t reasonable. I believe, as most do, that stealing is wrong. If I were to see someone stealing, I would stop them. I also believe Eminem is great, which others may not. However, I don’t require others to listen to him. This enforcing of one belief and not the other isn’t unfair, but normal. As such, SLU enforcing birth control policies but not requiring Lenten fasts is not a viable reason for one to disregard the birth control policies.
The composition also states that SLU not providing birth control causes students to lie to get it. This is a logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this). The fallacy occurs in this formula: X follows Y, therefore X must cause Y or, because some individuals lie to get birth control after SLU did not provide it, therefore SLU causes them to lie. As this type of reasoning is a fallacy, it should not be used to support any claim.
In a time when print media is sadly undervalued and seen to some as irrelevant, I commend UNews for being willing to discuss controversial topics, but hope that it will do so in the future with valid, correct reasoning.