By LIAM DILLON (Contact)
9:26 p.m., Wednesday, June 17, 2009
AVE MARIA — The Publix at Ave Maria is not carrying condoms, a move the supermarket chain said was a “business decision” based on space and perceived customer preference, adding there was no prohibition on their sale.
Access to condoms and other contraception within Ave Maria has received scrutiny from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups for more than three years after town co-developer Tom Monaghan made national news with comments stating the town would restrict the sale of those items. Monaghan later backed off his statements.
The town of Ave Maria is built around Ave Maria University, also founded by Monaghan, which is a university in the Catholic tradition. Catholic Church teaching prohibits the use of contraception.
ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said Wednesday his organization remained concerned about religious control in Ave Maria.
Publix spokeswoman Shannon Patten said company officials could not recall any discussions between them and the town’s developer — Monaghan and local landowner Barron Collier Cos. — about contraceptives.
The store is free to carry the products, but is not because of space restrictions in the 28,800 square foot facility — Publix’s smallest model — and because of perceived customer preference, Patten said. The store does not have a pharmacy.
“It was a business decision based on the limited space we have and the product offerings our customers will want,” Patten said.
Patten added that other stores the same size as Ave Maria’s do not sell contraceptives.
Reasons for stocking or not stocking an item at a particular store are varied. The Ave Maria Publix has an expanded section for school supplies given its proximity to the university and a K-12 private school. The store also doesn’t sell pet furniture even though other stores the same size do, Patten said.
If there’s a demand for contraception at the Ave Maria Publix, the store will carry it, she added.
“If it’s something that folks want then we’ll get it, if it’s not then we probably won’t,” she said.
Simon, the ACLU director, called the lack of contraception at Publix, “another building block in moving toward a picture of a community where the laws reflect religious beliefs.” Simon cited the community’s urgent care clinic not offering emergency contraception as another concern for him.
Ave Maria’s developers have long said they would not have any restrictions on contraceptives or any other inventory, repeating the assertion to numerous national media outlets.
Simon said the ACLU would continue to monitor the community.
“A community has every right to live in accordance with religious principles,” Simon said. “What is not permitted is when the laws of the community reflect religious principles.”
Follow higher education reporter Liam Dillon on Twitter at twitter.com/ndn_ ldillon.
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Tags: condoms, catholics, Ave Maria, Naples Daily News, religious stupidity
Location: Naples, Florida, United States (load item map)
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