Catholic university funds students' abortions through healthcare plan

‘Abstract gender ideology has a diabolical appeal that must be exposed at the root,’ Pope Francis said in 2021.

When asked if the Diocese of San Diego is aware of USD’s abortion coverage, Kevin C. Eckery, a representative for the Diocese, declined to comment.

The University of San Diego’s (USD) student health plan for the 2023 to 2024 school year covers 100 percent of abortion costs for its students, in addition to contraception and ‘gender-affirming care.’ 

The private, Catholic, California-based institution uses Aetna Student Health, a national health insurance provider.

The Catholic Church opposes abortion and values the sanctity of human life at “the moment of conception,” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2270).

Abstract gender ideology has “a diabolical appeal” that must be “exposed at the root,” Pope Francis said in 2021. It also poses a threat to Catholic education, according to a 2019 Vatican document titled “Male and Female He Created Them.” 

[RELATED: WATCH: Students at Catholic university protest pro-life speaker]

When asked by Campus Reform to comment on its coverage of ‘gender-affirming care’ in its healthcare plan, USD representative Lissette Martinez responded via email that the university “does not qualify as a religious employer under the state statute. As a religiously affiliated university, USD is not exempt from certain state and federal laws.”

“The University of San Diego is proud of its history and affiliation with the Catholic Church,” Martinez wrote. “Inspired by the centuries-old tradition of Catholic higher education, USD welcomes people of all faith traditions and any, or no, religious background to its community as students and employees. Because of this inclusive approach to education and employment, USD doesn’t fit the statute’s definition of a ‘religious employer.’”

“We encourage our community members to consult with their medical providers on the best course of treatment for any medical concern,” she added.

When asked by Campus Reform to comment on its coverage of abortion in the healthcare plan, USD also cited state law. 

“As an independent, Catholic university operating in the State of California, the University of San Diego is obligated to align our student and employee health insurance plans with state law (SB 245),” Martinez told Campus Reform

Dobbs v. Jackson determined that a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks is constitutional and effectively reversed Roe v. Wade, returning abortion legislation to the states. California State Law requires all higher public education institutions to provide free abortion pills and for health insurance providers to cover abortion costs. 

However, in Skyline Wesleyan Church v. California Department of Managed Health Care, a federal court ruled churches and other religious institutions, including Catholic universities, have the right to decline elective abortion coverage in their health insurance plans. 

USD chooses to provide abortion, contraception and ‘gender-affirming treatments’ anyway.

About 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend USD. Its website lists a commitment to “Contemporary Catholic values grounded in the liberal arts tradition.”

When asked if the Diocese of San Diego is aware of USD’s abortion coverage, Kevin C. Eckery, a representative for the Diocese, declined to comment. 

[RELATED: Professor promises to help students access abortion despite state law]

USD is one of many Catholic institutions that cover abortion in its offered healthcare plan.

University of Notre Dame Professor Tamara Kay helped students obtain abortion drugs in 2022. Abortion is illegal in Indiana when the mother’s life is not at risk. Notre Dame still employs her.

At least four other Catholic higher education institutions have similar health insurance policies that include coverage for ‘gender-affirming care.’

Fordham University covers “medically necessary surgical, hormone replacement therapy, and counseling treatment.” (The page has a server error, but Campus Reform used digital archive Wayback Machine to find the contents of Fordham’s health care plan). 

Boston College provides “Medically necessary reconstructive procedures that are for gender reaffirming or gender dysphoria treatment.” Both Saint Louis University and the University of San Francisco cover “gender-affirming treatment” and a “gender transition benefit.”

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