The following comes from a Sept. 3 story by Patricia Miller on Religion Dispatches.

After three years of nearly constant Sturm und Drang on the part of U.S. bishops over the contraception mandate comes word that some of the same Catholic universities have been covering abortions all along. Loyola Marymount’s insurance plan, as its president recently confirmed, has included elective abortion coverage for the past 25 years.

The revelation comes with the news that the California Department of Health and Human Services has reversed itself and rescinded permission for two Catholic universities in California to remove elective abortion coverage from their employee insurance plans. It turns out that even as the bishops have been screaming that any attempt to force Catholic-affiliated organizations to cover contraception would be a heinous insult to Catholicism, Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara Universities have been covering abortions—including elective abortions—as California law requires coverage of all “medically necessary” services.

While a number of states have moved to ban private insurers from covering some or all abortions, California has both statutory and constitutional protections for abortion access which, according to the state Department of Managed Health Care, means that health plans must treat “legal abortion neutrally” and may not place any exclusions or limitations on coverage for the service.

Last year, both universities sought permission from the state to remove elective abortion coverage. The state initially granted the universities permission, but reversed itself after knowledge of the exclusions became public.

Even the move to remove elective abortion coverage and continue to cover medically necessary abortions would leave the plans well outside Catholic teaching and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which ban abortion in any and all circumstances, even to save a woman’s life.

The irony is that while the bishops have been arguing that Catholic-affiliated organizations can’t even “cooperate” with birth control by being one or two steps away from a process in which they had only a tangential role (with universities like Notre Dame filing lawsuits opposing the so-called accommodation), these two Catholic universities have been directly covering abortions in their health plans, which in terms of Catholic moral theology is considered formal cooperation with evil and never allowed.

And when employees at Loyola Marymount complained about the change in coverage, the university made elective abortion coverage available to those who wanted to purchase it from a third-party administrator, which is similar to the mechanism that the bishops have said universities can’t even use for birth control….

To read the original posting, click here.