The University of Scranton’s President, the Reverend Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., has announced plans to terminate the institution’s health insurance coverage of all abortions.
Since the 1990s, the University’s healthcare policy allowed for abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother was endangered by a pregnancy. This policy was implemented so as to comply with the limits of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law for traditional insurance plans.
However, that was then and this is now.
In his letter to the campus, Fr. Quinn stated that the coverage of any abortion is inconsistent with the University’s Roman Catholic faith:
…the moral teaching of the Church on abortion is unequivocal. Circumstances, “however serious or tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,” and “[n]o one more absolutely innocent could be imagined” than the unborn child. (Evangelium Vitae, no. 58)
Why the dramatic change in policy?
The University of Scranton is now self-insured, meaning that “we can, and therefore must, offer insurance plans that are free of all abortion coverage,” according to Fr. Quinn.
Aware of the problems this change in healthcare policy will likely provoke–in particular, with the faculty union because the University’s contract with the union will need to be adjusted–Fr. Quinn wrote an eloquent, proactive defense:
…fidelity to our mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution is the abiding theme of our history, regardless of the times and trials.
Remaining faithful to our identity as a Catholic institution calls us to serve the world in unique and inspiring ways. It has also, over the years, led the University to adapt its institutional practices to ensure harmony with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church….
Would that all of the presidents of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges experienced a similar conversion or, at least, learned that it is possible to overcome their timidity, defend Church teaching at their institutions, and tred where angels fear!
Fr. Quinn’s defense of Church teaching raises substantive questions:
- Should not what is unique about a Catholic institution of higher education–its “value added”–be its role in integrating faith and reason, first, by propagating the Catholic faith and its values and, second, building upon that foundation? After all, shouldn’t one know what one is critiquing before critiquing it?
- Why ever would anyone pay tuition to attend a Catholic university or college in order to be strategically de-Catholicized? Aren’t there already enough officially secular-humanist institutions of public higher education available in the United States?
Kudos to Fr. Quinn and the University of Scranton! May his leadership inspire his colleagues in U.S. Catholic higher education to tred where they’d rather not…by becoming self-insured and, then, ending all abortion coverage as part of their healthcare policies.
To read Fr. Quinn’s letter, click on the following link:
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