In October, Santa Clara University President Rev. Michael Enge moved to eliminate elective abortion coverage sponsored by the Catholic college. The faculty senate followed suit with a resolution passed last week that declares Enge’s action “invalid” and indicates that the issue will be taken to the school’s Board of Trustees.
Professor Nancy C. Unger was a leader in the movement to undo the university head’s abortion coverage removal. She previously expressed her criticism on several grounds that ranged from the widely-accepted to the extreme, including that a unilateral decision goes against best higher education practices, that it is inappropriate given the language of Pope Francis, that employer-funded abortion is an essential component of religious freedom, and that a man should not make decisions on behalf of women:
Thus, many are surprised that the president made his decision so soon after Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, criticized the Church for its “obsession” with abortion and called for a “clear sense of priority: healing wounds and warming hearts.”
Santa Clara faculty and staff are not members of a Catholic parish. They are employees of a large corporation. Many fear that this denial of comprehensive abortion coverage is part of a wider effort to allow private employers to impose their religious beliefs on employees, denying a raft of health care services from abortion and contraception to vaccines. The decision came on the heels of a similar denial of coverage at Loyola Marymount University, also a Jesuit institution.
“Father knows best” is not a compelling argument here, especially when one man denies hundreds of women access to a procedure that he could never need. It’s also no principle on which to run a university.
It seems the Santa Clara University faculty agree with Professor Unger, as the resolution to invalidate Enge’s decision passed by a wide margin. The invalidation was just one of three parts of the proposal, and the resolution focused more on questions of procedure than of abortion itself. Inside Higher Ed reports:
All 627 faculty members were eligible to vote on the matter; voting ended last week. The section of the resolution to invalidate the new policy passed by a vote of 215 to 89. The section stating that the Senate would consider “further action” on the policy unless the Board of Trustees took action to reverse it passed by a vote of 202 to 102….
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