The following comes from an Oct. 7 story in the Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Los Angeles’ South Bay region.
After weeks of campus-wide debate, trustees at Loyola Marymount University voted late Monday to end university-paid insurance coverage for elective abortions for faculty and staff in 2014.
But in a concession that could wind up making both sides unhappy, the university will offer a policy administrated by a third party — not using LMU dollars — that will include abortion coverage for a higher premium, according to a written statement from university President David Burcham and co-signed by board Chairwoman Kathleen Aikenhead to faculty and staff.
“No LMU dollars will be spent paying for the additional coverage,” Burcham and Aikenhead wrote in the letter. The University Comprehensive Benefits Committee will review the decision and make benefit recommendations for 2015 and beyond.
The plan managed by the third party will be chosen soon. A “slightly higher premium” is expected for faculty and staff, the letter stated.
One professor on the Westchester campus said the compromise probably guarantees ongoing debate over the issue.
“I don’t think it makes much sense,” said Christopher Kaczor, a Loyola philosophy professor. “It’s like saying abortion is seriously wrong, I will not drive you to the abortion clinic, but wait here and I’ll have my brother drive you — and that somehow gives them clean hands.”
The decision, he said, “doesn’t really work. … It’s a victory for the side that wants LMU to be a secular place.”
Equally dissatisfied on the other side of the debate was associate professor of sociology Anna Muraco, who has written about the issue and said the matter of equity in the workplace has been pushed aside in the debate.
“I work at a Jesuit institution and I understand that,” she said, adding that the trustees’ statement and the debate has dismissed the university’s stated goal of “wanting to educate the whole person,” with an emphasis on social justice.
Removing elective abortions from health care plans, she said, “singles out health coverage that only affects one class of worker.” She also questioned whether the alternative plan premiums would be too high for lower-paid employees.
“We’re missing some of the larger issues that are at stake here — issues like equity” and diversity, she said. Abortion, she said, “is legal and safe. There’s something disingenuous by the way this (issue) has been framed. … They claim to be an institution that respects diversity and religious plurality and we did not have to sign any kind of faith statement like other (Catholic) schools have.
To read the entire story, click here.