Loyola Marymount drops abortion coverage from health plans

Trustees at Loyola Marymount University voted unanimously on Monday to stop covering elective abortions in healthcare plans for staff and faculty. Health plans for the roughly 1700 employees would still cover procedures deemed necessary to maintain the health of the mother.

Employees will be able to enroll in a third-party-administered plan that offers abortion coverage. Those premiums are expected to be higher, because the university will not contribute money for the procedure. The university has not yet finalized who will administer the third-party plans.

Loyola Marymount is a Jesuit university, and the board’s decision sat well with many who want the school to promote traditional Catholic values. 

“From the perspective of Catholic moral teaching, abortion is a particularly serious evil. It’s been considered that since the earliest centuries of Christianity,” said Father Robert Caro, vice president for mission and ministry at the university.

No board members would speak with the media, but university president David Burcham released a statement on Monday after the vote, saying it upheld,  “a fundamental part of Catholic beliefs."

In the letter, Burcham also reaffirmed the university’s commitment to diversity and free discourse, but that message rang hollow to many.

 “It’s difficult to 100 percent believe that diversity of opinion will be respected,” said Anna Muraco, a professor of sociology at Loyola Marymount. 

“This affects workplace equity for women," Muraco said. "When women don’t have the ability to control their reproductive lives, their reproductive access, it really disrupts women’s ability to have workplace equity.”

The debate over abortion coverage has been raging since August, when the university learned that one of its insurance policy holders had dropped coverage for elective abortions at the beginning of the year. In a letter to the university, Burcham wrote that the school had been looking into that possibility for 15 years. 

When it learned that doing so was possible, the board began considering whether to drop elective abortions from all plans. Now, after months of debate within the university, the matter has been decided.

Muraco, who received tenure last year, says that she’s now considering working at other institutions.

“I don’t know that I can continue to be in a place that seems so at odds with the way I view the world,” Muraco said.

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