SANTA CLARA, CA, February 25, 2014 ( – Santa Clara University, a Catholic university, has announced its insurance plan will stop paying for its employees' elective abortions in January 2015.

Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Finocchio Jr. said the decision “flows from the university's identity and mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university.”

The policy had been announced last fall by university president Fr. Michael E. Engh, S.J., only to meet a backlash from faculty members.


“Our core commitments as a Catholic university are incompatible with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the university's health plans,” he wrote in a letter to faculty and staff last October. He hoped the university would further Jesuit ethics by “modeling an ethics of dialogue.”

Juliana Chang, Faculty Senate president, asked that the board declare the decision “invalid” due to “our shared governance structure.”

“The trustees’ statement bluntly reminds professors that they don’t have final control over the university,” Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews. “Apparently some professors thought they could bully Father Engh to keep their abortion coverage, but the trustees have a legal responsibility to uphold Santa Clara’s mission and Catholic identity, and they did the right thing.”

Fr. Engh announced the university would explore other options by which faculty and staff could obtain abortion coverage on their own.

Despite the step to separate the religious institution from formal participation in abortion, Reilly says troubling questions persist.

“Amid all the excitement about dropping the coverage, the university has not offered a clear explanation for why abortion was covered in the first place,” he told LifeSiteNews. “How many babies died? Who’s taking responsibility? It’s a grave scandal that the trustees ought to investigate.”

The school has a long reputation for dissent.

Its website announced in 2006 that the university landed an anthropology student an internship at Planned Parenthood.

The school's ethicist, Lawrence Nelson, signed an amicus brief in 1996 affirming “the right of competent, dying patients to physician-assisted suicide.”

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In 2008, the university's law school honored then-Obama administration Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, a Catholic who supports abortion-on-demand – a view he said he adopted from Santa Clara professor Jesuit Father Austin Fagothey, who argued that “there should be no laws on abortion.”

Santa Clara theology professor Frederick Parrella argued in 2012 that the Catholic Church should bless same-sex unions, because there is “nothing in the Gospels” requiring a heterosexual definition of marriage.

Patricia Cain, a professor and expert in feminist theory, wrote that she supports “marriage equality” and offered tax tips to same-sex “married” couples on the school's blog.

The university has held several performances of the play The Vagina Monologues, which positively portrays the seduction of a teenage girl by a 24-year-old lesbian.


Fr. Michael E. Engh, S.J.
Office of the President
Santa Clara University
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 408-554-4100
Fax: 408-554-4101