Last Friday saw a quiet but important victory for women's rights. Thanks to faulty healthcare plans at two Jesuit universities, officials ordered that California insurers must cover elective abortions. Yay, California officials!
Last fall, Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University told their employees that health-care plans offered through the universities would be amended to only cover "medically necessary" abortions. The schools said that Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente, the health-care companies that managed their policies, had already cleared the decision with the proper state agencies.
Loyola Marymount put its policy into effect after its Board of Trustees voted last January. Santa Clara's faculty, however, was outraged when the university's president, Rev. Michael Engh, made the switch without consulting the faculty or Board of Trustees. They made their feelings on the matter abundantly clear when the Santa Clara University Faculty Senate voted to deem the change "invalid."
Loyola did throw its employees a bone by offering a supplemental health-care plan
that would allow them to pay extra for, you know, the coverage they
used to have, but the Santa Clara faculty and staff, left with no response to their protestations, took their case to
the public. Professor Nancy Unger penned an op-ed for the San Jose Mercury News:
'Father knows best' is not a compelling argument here, especially when one man denies hundreds of women access to a procedure that he could never need. It's also no principle on which to run a university.
After some lobbying to the California legislature's women's caucus, the California Department of Managed Health Care, which watches over patients' rights' laws, stepped in while well-deserved rage mounted amongst faculty and staff at both schools. On Friday, director Michelle Rouillard sent a letter to "remind plans" that the California constitution bars discrimination against women who choose to end a pregnancy, and, additionally, a 1975 law requires that basic health-care services be provided in all plans.
And yes, basic health care means abortions, too.
It's no feminist manifesto, but it is nice to see a state body stand up for women's bodies! Even if it is the legal thing to do, we all know that, when it wants to, the government has this pesky habit of working around legalities and basic civil liberties. Especially when it comes to reproductive health.