Trustees at Loyola Marymount University have voted to eliminate health insurance coverage of elective abortions for faculty and staff.
After weeks of divisive campus-wide debate, the board voted late Monday to end university-paid coverage in 2014, while providing an option for employees to seek out abortion coverage at their own expense.
The controversial decision at LMU, a Catholic university in Los Angeles, has dissatisfied individuals on both sides of the issue.
Anna Muraco, an associate professor of sociology at LMU, said that the debate was "missing some of the larger issues that are at stake here -- issues like equity” and diversity, the Daily Breeze reports.
Abortion “is legal and safe," she said. "There’s something disingenuous by the way this (issue) has been framed. ... They claim to be an institution that respects diversity and religious plurality, and we did not have to sign any kind of faith statement like other (Catholic) schools have."
However, equally dissatisfied on the other side of the debate was Christopher Kaczor, philosophy professor at LMU, who said the university cannot have it both ways.
“The decision basically is something like this: we think abortion is intrinsically evil and wrong so we’re not going to drive you there, but let me arrange for my brother to take you there if you give him a couple bucks he’ll take care of you,” he said to CBS.
LMU's trustees said that employees will be able to select a Third Party Administrator (TPA)-managed plan that will cover elective abortions. Employees who select this plan will pay a slightly higher premium, which will ensure that no LMU dollars will go towards elective abortions.
In a letter, the trustees wrote that their decision is in line with the church's "core teaching on the dignity of every human being at all stages of life."
The letter continued, "however, we also want to reaffirm clearly that we are a university in which diversity, academic freedom, free discourse, unencumbered pursuit of truth and engaged debate on important contemporary issues are part of our very nature and key to our success."
Last month, Pope Francis said the church had grown “obsessed” with abortion to the detriment of its larger mission to be "home for all." “We have to find a new balance," he said.