University apologizes for student health plan abortion coverage, but questions remain
University apologizes for student health plan abortion coverage, but questions remain

.- Following reports that the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco (USF) required students to join a health plan which included coverage for abortions, the university has apologized and has taken “full responsibility” for not adequately reviewing the health contract.

However, a report indicates that USF health insurance has a history of providing abortion coverage. Further, a Catholic-sponsored student health clinic near the university allegedly offers students referrals for abortions.

On Wednesday the blog of the Catholic Key, the newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph in Missouri, reported that USF students were required to enroll in the USF health insurance plan if they did not have comparable coverage of their own.

The University of San Francisco (USF) Student Health Insurance Plan, underwritten by Aetna Life Insurance Company, is described in a university brochure.

The brochure on the health plan’s coverage lists under the category “Maternity Expenses” its provisions for “voluntary termination of pregnancy.” The brochure notes the different costs of the procedure, which depend on the type of plan.

On Friday Gary McDonald, Assistant Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at USF, issued a statement apologizing for the plan’s coverage of abortion.

“It was not the University's intention to offer this coverage.  USF supports the Catholic Church's views on the sanctity of life, at all stages, and we will remove this provision from our student health plan,” he told CNA.

“We regret this mistake, and we take full responsibility for not adequately reviewing the contract. We are grateful to those who brought this issue to our attention.”

The Catholic Key has provided more information critical of USF, arguing that if the abortion coverage was an unintentional mistake, it is “an oft repeated mistake if so.”

In 2002, USF was criticized by the Association of Students at Catholic Colleges for referring students to Planned Parenthood on university websites and at student clinics, the Catholic Key reports.

In 2005, USF offered in its non-mandatory student health insurance a plan through BC Life and Health which included coverage of the abortion pill under the category "Prescription drug for elective abortion (mifepristone)."

And in 2006, USF’s Kaiser Health Plan for employees provided coverage for "Voluntary termination of pregnancy" for a $15 copayment per procedure.

Also in 2006, USF’s Blue Cross employee plan offered mifepristone and abortion coverage.

According to the Catholic Key, the Archdiocese of San Francisco uses Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente as its insurers but it uses a plan which specifically excluded abortion coverage.

Our Sunday Visitor’s “Daily Take” blog reports that USF students receive most of their health care through a special clinic for students at St. Mary’s Medical Center. According to its web site, the Sisters of Mercy “sponsor or co-sponsor many organizations and ministries” such as St. Mary’s Medical Center.

An official at St. Mary’s said that the student health clinic refers students who request abortion or contraception either to Planned Parenthood or Aetna providers, Our Sunday Visitor says.

St. Mary’s senior director Les McGee, who reportedly oversees the student health clinic, told Our Sunday Visitor that no statistics are kept recording student requests for abortion.

“We just provide them with resources of where they want to go,” McGee said. “We’re not involved in terminating pregnancies.”

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