The recently announced student health plan at the University of San Diego (USD), a private Catholic school, includes provisions to cover 100% of the cost of abortions for its students. The addition of abortions, as well as contraception and “gender-affirming care,” to the health plan’s offerings is raising eyebrows, but a representative of the Diocese of San Diego has chosen not to comment on the development at this time.
Campus Reform reported the change to the health plan, provided under Aetna Student Health, on August 10. Of course, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) opposes contraception and prohibits abortion from the moment of conception. “Gender-affirming care” is also at odds with the Catholic faith, with Pope Francis having called gender ideology “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations.”
In the report, Campus Reform spoke with USD representative Lissette Martinez, who noted that the university did not qualify as a “religious employer” in California, and was thusly not exempt from state laws that require higher education schools to provide abortions, contraception, and “gender-affirming care.” She said:
“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.’”
While Martinez admitted the school’s affiliation with the Church, it is unclear how the school was not exempt as a “religious employer.” On the school’s website the admission of students from all backgrounds and faiths does not stop them from unabashedly claiming to be a “Catholic university.” The website reads:
“There are many facets to our faith community: As a Catholic university, we welcome and include students from every background and faith tradition, creating a caring community where all can belong and grow in their spirituality. Masses, prayer services, retreats and faith sharing groups are offered year round.”
Martinez went on to note that the university encourages its students to “consult with medical providers on the best course of treatment for any medical concern,” adding:
“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).”
There are currently around 9,000 graduate and undergraduate students enrolled at the USD, many of whom were drawn to the program by the school’s “contemporary Catholic values grounded in the liberal arts tradition.”
In 2022, a University of Notre Dame professor came under fire when helping students procure abortion drugs. Meanwhile, Campus Reform noted that four other Catholic schools have included “gender-affirming care” in their recent health plans, including Fordham University, Boston College, Saint Louis University, and the University of San Francisco.
Campus Reform reached out to the Diocese of San Diego, but a representative for the diocese declined to comment.