Santa Clara University is a Catholic school and the church’s position on abortion is pretty clear. Maybe the faculty members who disagree could find work at one of the thousands of non-Catholic schools in the country.

Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed reports.

Policy Denied

In an unprecedented move, the Santa Clara University Faculty Senate has voted to deem a recent health insurance policy change concerning abortion coverage “invalid.” It’s also demanding more faculty input on any future decision about coverage for non-medically necessary abortions.

“The term ‘invalid’ refers to the process by which [Rev. Michael Engh, university president] made the decision,” Juliana Chang, professor of English and a Faculty Senate president, said via email. “Faculty believe that our shared governance structure means that the president should consult the faculty prior to implementing major policy decisions.”

In October, Father Engh sent a letter to faculty and staff at the Jesuit institution saying he was ending health insurance coverage for “elective” abortions. Santa Clara was one of two Roman Catholic colleges in California to announce such a change this fall. The other was Loyola Marymount University.

Faculty at both institutions have raised concerns about both the ethical implications of the policy and the processes by which they were implemented. The initial announcement at Loyola Marymount was followed by a brief period for employee feedback, before its Board of Trustees approved the new policy in a split vote. At Santa Clara, however, faculty members have said they were given no warning.

“Our commitments as a Catholic university are incompatible with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the university’s health care plans,” Father Engh wrote in his letter.