The President of a Catholic university that has long prided itself on open communication and governing by consensus has decided unilaterally to drop health insurance coverage for faculty and staff to receive elective abortions.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Reverend Michael Engh, SJ, President of Santa Clara University (SCU), wrote in a letter to SCU faculty and staff that the University had to restructure its medical insurance plans in 2014 to be compliant with federal and California law and regulations while remaining faithful to its values as a Jesuit university. Fr. Engh concluded:
...our core commitments as a Catholic university are incompatible
with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the University's
Predictably, not everyone at SCU was happy with Fr. Engh's decision--even some Catholic faculty members--who wondered why Fr. Engh didn't alert faculty and staff that he was considering terminating insurance coverage for elective abortions. Others were upset that he didn't consult the SCU community prior to announcing his decision. For example, SCU history professor, Nancy Unger said:
This really makes Santa Clara University's express commitment
to openness, diversity and inclusiveness ring hollow....This is not
the Santa Clara University that I have loved and been proud to serve.
An SCU professor of anthropology, Mary Hegland, who doesn't "love abortion," said:
...the male Jesuits running Santa Clara University feel they know
what God wants regarding women, women's bodies and women's
reproduction....We have many women working at SCU who are
not Catholic or--even if Catholic--do not believe that abortion is
against God's will. If the SCU male Jesuit administration really
felt "sensitivity towards women," they would not have made
The story won't end there, however.
In his letter, Fr. Engh also promised the stormy petrils that they will be afforded opportunities to vent their concerns about the issue. The schedule is to be coordinated by the executive directors of the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and the Women's and Gender Studies Department.
Ironically, the day SCU faculty and staff received Fr. Engh's letter, California's Governor, Jerry Brown--himself a former Jesuit seminarian--signed AB 154 which allows nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and physician assistants with special training perform the most common kind of first-trimester abortions.
With two Jesuit universities this past week refusing to provide employees insurance coverage for elective abortions, it may be that administrators at other of the nation's Catholic universities and colleges will take the cue and become more obsessed with Catholic moral teaching.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the article in the San Jose Mercury News, click on the following link: