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Santa Clara University Drops Elective Abortion Coverage For Staff, In What May Be A Trend

10/11/2013 06:35 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2013

A second Catholic university in California this week has dropped elective abortion coverage for its staff.

In a letter dated Oct. 3, Santa Clara University President Michael Engh announced the 2014 change to the Jesuit university's 1,600 employees.

"Our core commitments as a Catholic university are incompatible with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the University's health plans," Engh wrote in the letter.

The move appears to be part of a trend among Catholic campuses seeking to uphold their religious beliefs while employing and enrolling many non-Catholics, the Los Angeles Times notes. Just this week, Loyola Marymount University, a Catholic university in Los Angeles, also announced that it will eliminate elective abortion coverage for its staff starting next year.

The move by both universities was met with outrage by some of its staff, who thought there should have been more dialogue before a decision was made.

“The policy comes as quite a shock,” Nancy Unger, a history professor at Santa Clara, said to NBC. "There was no discussion. There was a request for discussion afterwards, which many of us felt was really sort of patronizing.”

President Obama's Affordable Care Act requires that birth control be covered but allows employers to restrict abortion coverage.

Health plans must cover birth control under the Affordable Care Act, but Obamacare allows employers to offer plans that restrict abortion coverage.

Father Jim Bretzke, a professor of moral theology at Boston College, sympathized with Santa Clara's decision.

“An elective abortion is a serious moral evil, and if it’s in our power to end that on whatever level we can operate, we should do our best to end that moral evil,” Bretzke said to CBS. “They believe that that is a moral evil and so they’re pursuing dropping that from their packages.”

The change by the universities moves in the opposite direction of California's abortion law. Just this week, Gov. Jerry Brown, himself a former Jesuit seminarian, signed a bill allowing nurses and midwives to perform abortions.

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