Written by Jordan Smith
Chissa Rivaldi never expected to be in a fight with her university over birth control. Four years ago, when she was deciding where to pursue a doctoral degree in biology, she had two key things in mind: a supportive adviser and an institution with a robust research program. She found what she was looking for in the University of Notre Dame. “This program was the best thing for me in terms of the research I wanted to do and the pace and how it incorporated the work I’d done previously,” she said.
That the university is a Catholic institution didn’t really enter the equation. Rivaldi is not Catholic, but she didn’t see that as a reason not to pursue her education there — even though she was aware of the church hierarchy’s positions on various issues, including reproductive rights and access to birth control. After all, the university actively champions its diversity and “spirit of inclusion.” And where her access to health care was concerned, there was the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that a host of core women’s health services be provided without cost sharing, including contraceptives — a coverage requirement that would apply to the insurance benefits the university offered to students.
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