WESTCHESTER (CBSLA.com) — The Board of Trustees at Loyola Marymount University has voted to eliminate insurance coverage for elective abortions, while providing an option for employees to seek out abortion coverage at their own expense.
The school calls it a compromise, but critics on both sides are unhappy with the decision.
"LMU is a lovely place and I've appreciated being at a place that prizes such academic freedom and such diverse point of view," said psychology professor Nora Murphy. "And this just does not feel like it's in that vein."
"I'm disappointed," said philosophy professor Christopher Kaczor. "What LMU did is basically offer an option for employees to sign up in order to receive elective abortions. Now they have to pay for this option, but still I think it's inappropriate and inconsistent with our mission as a Jesuit school to do that."
Professor Kazczon said the administration 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. "Well that doesn't really make sense. If abortion is really seriously wrong you don't arrange for someone else to facilitate it. And that's exactly what LMU did."
Founded by Jesuits, Loyola Marymount is one of the leading Catholic universities in the country. But recent statistics show less than half of incoming students identify as Catholic, in contrast to other schools like Boston College and Notre Dame, where the figure is closer to 70 percent.
"I think there's value in diversity, that not every university should be the same. And people want to go to a secular school, there's hundreds and hundreds of options," said Professor Kaczon. "But I think LMU is founded by the Jesuit order and it's supported mostly by Catholic donors and I think if the donors begin to think 'look, is this place really Catholic what's going on here?' that's going to hurt the school very much."
In the latest edition, LMU's student newspaper The Los Angeles Loyolan argues the vote by the trustees and the bitter debate surrounding the question of health insurance coverage goes to the heart of LMU's identity and values.
"It is a Catholic and Jesuit university and that's an important part of our identity," said Professor Murphy. "But part of the Jesuit ideals is to encourage all sorts of exploration of different ideas and a larger communication and dialogue. And most of this process has not felt like a dialogue. It has felt like just coming down from high."
for more features.