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Loyola Marymount Students Support, Many Professors Oppose Dropping Abortion Coverage

Loyola Marymount

Matthew Archbold - published on 09/16/13

While students at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles seem to support the University dropping its abortion insurance coverage, many faculty at LMU are fighting it.

While students at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles seem to support the University dropping its insurance coverage of abortion, many faculty at LMU are fighting it, according to The Los Angeles Loyolan.

An informal Facebook poll run by the student newspaper indicates support for the administration’s decision to drop abortion coverage from 55 percent of students. Many of the 67 respondents reportedly cited the University’s Catholic identity.

But sadly, many of the faculty seem outraged by the administration’s decision. And even the recently appointed head of the Bioethics Institute at LMU offered a shocking compromise.

According to the student newspaper, the Director of the Bioethics Institute and Professor of Theological Studies Roberto Dell’Oro sent a letter to the Faculty Senate, offering a possible solution. “A middle ground must be reached that is not just a moral compromise, but an expression of the commitment to the values we cherish as a Jesuit University,” he reportedly wrote.

His “middle ground” is reportedly a “rider” option, which would allow LMU’s health care providers to allow employees to choose abortion coverage without necessarily providing the coverage to the entire University.

Before coming to LMU, Dell’Oro was a post-doctoral fellow in bioethics at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics at Georgetown University and later a senior scholar at Georgetown’s Center for Clinical Bioethics.

Many faculty members simply expressed outrage over the decision by the administration.

Sociology professor Anna Muraco reportedly sent an email to the Loyolan saying, “With this change in health care coverage and in the manner it was conducted, LMU has given mixed signals about what is ‘appropriate’ at this Catholic institution. I have heard from more than one pre-tenure faculty member… that they no longer feel safe to do their jobs.”

Theological studies professor Anna Harrison said the administration’s decision has caused a “chilling effect” among faculty. “It’s a matter of such enormous sensitivity that I have to say that I do strongly believe it must be finally the decision of the girl or the woman,” she reportedly said. “I don’t have to agree with her decision, but I do not feel that I am in a position to make that decision for her.”

Another theology professor, Tracy Tiemeier, wrote to the Loyolan asking, “if we support Catholic teaching on the dignity of life, as we claim, why is there no women’s resource center, rape crisis center or even pregnancy support center?”

Staff Senate President Nicholas Mattos was reportedly upset about the fact that faculty and staff weren’t consulted on the decision. “Regardless of how I may feel about elective abortions, I am concerned that staff members were not initially asked to respond to this issue,” he reportedly said.

Philosophy professor James Hanink, whose email inquiring about abortion coverage and his subsequent conversations with The Cardinal Newman Society ignited the firestorm, attempted to refocus the debate. “There have been 55 million abortions since Roe v. Wade,” he reportedly said. “That shouldn’t be something people occasionally think about.”

The Faculty Senate is hosting an open forum for faculty and staff concerning the University’s decision to drop abortion coverage in its health plan on Friday. University President David Burcham made clear in the story that a formal decision had not yet been made about health coverage.

“As always, I remain committed to working with the Faculty and Staff Senates and consulting the wider community on important issues as we move forward,” Burcham reportedly said.

Originally published by The Cardinal Newman Society's Catholic Education Daily on 13 September 2013.

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