About 80 faculty and staff members at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), including many in the theology department, affixed their name to a full page advertisement in the student newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan, urging the administration of the Jesuit University to continue providing coverage for abortion in its healthcare plan.
The ad claims that more than 150 faculty and staff have signed the statement.
“As members of the LMU community, we value the freedom of conscience, diversity, and collaborative decision making necessary for the well-being of a university,” reads the advertisement. “We urge the University to maintain full healthcare coverage for women.”
Last month, administrators announced they were dropping abortion from employee health coverage, but not contraception. The decision has yet to be ratified by the LMU board of trustees.
Many of those signing the ad are from the theology department, including Cynthia Garrity-Bond, who is, according to LMU’s website, a “feminist theologian and social ethicist.” Her Facebook page links tout her sites including “Let Constance Take her Girlfriend to Prom” and the “Women’s Ordination Conference.”
Anna Harrison, associate professor of theological studies, also signed the ad. She was previously quoted in the Loyolan saying abortion should be a matter of individual choice. “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,” Harrison reportedly said of abortion. “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.”
Sheilah Jones, adjunct professor of theological studies, signed the ad despite teaching “Ethics of Christian Marriage and Sexuality” at LMU. Included in the required reading is dissident Sr. Margaret Farley’s An Ethic for Same-Sex Relations. According to an excerpt which appeared in Boston College’s C21 Resources, a publication of the College’s Church in the 21st Century program, Farley writes, “By arguing that no absolute prohibition and no absolute blessing can be established from the sources of Christian ethics, I have meant to imply that some same-sex relations and activity can be justified.”
Thomas White, professor of business ethics, affirms by signing the ad that he condones abortion rights for humans, yet he has argued that dolphins should be granted the status of personhood. White is the author of In Defense of Dolphins: The New Frontier.
“Dolphins should be considered nonhuman persons,” said White, according to an LMU press release, “because they have the kind of consciousness that, in the past, we thought was unique to our species. They’re not just aware of the world around them, but they have the ability to look inside and say ‘I.’ They have a sense of choice and will.’”
Because of those attributes, White believes that dolphins should be given “moral standing” as individuals, according to LMU.
Gil Klein, assistant professor of theological studies; Simon Mary Aihiokhai, adjunct professor of theological studies; and Faith Sauerwald, an administrative assistant in the theology department, also signed the letter.