Letter to Trustees

Dear President Burcham and Chair Aikenhead:

As students, faculty, alumni, donors and supporters of LMU, we are disappointed in the decision of the Board of Trustees to continue facilitating abortion coverage for LMU employees.

The decision by the LMU Board of Trustees to no longer provide abortion coverage in their “standard” employee health plans, but instead provide the coverage in a “TPA-managed” plan, is a distinction without a difference. The Board has basically said, “While we can not make abortion directly available to our employees, we will arrange for another party to make it available on our behalf.” This rationale is mere rhetoric not worthy of a great university.

References in the Board’s October 7, 2013 statement to “academic freedom” and a “litmus test” for those employed by the university are simply diversions from the issue the Board was asked to decide, namely whether to facilitate abortion coverage for its employees.

Most offensive is the Board’s reliance on a statement by Pope Francis to justify its morally deficient decision. Church teaching on abortion is clear, as is the Church’s teaching on the role of a university in protecting the sanctity of human life. As Pope Francis recently stated to a group of physicians, “Every child that isn’t born, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of Jesus Christ, has the face of the Lord.”

We are gravely disappointed the Board has ignored the request of hundreds of its own alumni, donors, students, faculty, and staff, and we continue to call on the university to take greater strides toward strengthening LMU’s Catholic character.


[Thank you. Comments have been closed for this October 2013 initiative.]

33 thoughts on “Letter to Trustees

  1. The actions of the LMU faculty and staff, especially those of the newly appointed Chair of the Bio Ethics department would make me wonder if LMU is actually a “Catholic” institution any more.

    • Hear! Hear!

      Obviously the issue being voted for is far-more basic! is LMU still a Catholic institution? I say the evidence suggests a clear No!

  2. Great work. There are so few old line Catholic institutions that are truly Catholic that it makes your head swim. Happy to see my old friend Charlie Luke on your organizing committee!

  3. What a sad day it will be if the predominately non Catholic faculty get this benefit from Loyola that I graduated from 60 years ago. I thought Loyola was still a Jesuit school.

  4. I hope that LMU Jesuits and its Leadership will be good Shepherds as they are called to be. The decision to remove elective abortions from the healthcare plan should be a “no brainer.” However, because the university is being challenged from a small loud group, it has caused the university to pause and rethink its direction on the issue. The cry for “my right(s) are being taken away from me,” is far from the truth. No, one persons rights are being threatened or taken away from them. The university provides a benefit to its employees that is an added compensation, it is not a right. If the leadership does not act justly on this issue, but instead subjects itself to the cry of immorality from this small group, then it is obvious that LMU’s Catholic Identity is in name only, because it will not be holding true to the Faith. I will pray for the leadership of LMU to be strong and to have courage to defend what is truly right – to defend Life, to defend the Faith, to defend its Catholic Identity.

    Maybe one way to solve this problem would be to get rid of the healthcare plans all together and instead provide its employees with an annual Healthcare financial allowance (benefit) that each employee can use to buy their own insurance, thereby placing the responsibility to choose what healthcare is best, on the employee, not the university. This would alleviate any one person that is employed by LMU that does not want to be held accountable to the Catholic Identity that the university espouses, which is based on moral principles.

    I would also add and emphasize, that the university leadership is called to uphold what the Jesuits themselves declare: “to be pro-life is to be pro-woman.” Elective abortions are pro-death, as is any form or method that stops God’s creation to completely form. If the Jesuits themselves do not act in good conscience of what they declare, then it is obvious why the Catholic Identity of the university is not held in high regard. St. Ignatius I am sure is praying fervently for his fellow Jesuits to hold true to their calling, to be Soldiers for Christ – Foot Soldiers for the Faith.

  5. Does our Catholic university have a disproportionate number of non-Catholic instructors? Obviously, they do – and rather than quietly going their own private way they insist on publically countermanding the Catholic Church re abortion.

  6. Abortion is the one operation for which there is no excuse even for an atheist. Contrary to oft quoted opinion, the embryo is not a part of the mother’s body but an entirely new and unique person with its’ own separate blood supply which may even be a different blood type, its’ own DNA, its own finger prints; in fact there is no other person in the world just like it. Realizing the extreme pressure the young mother may be under, the obliteration of one’s’ own offspring is an offense against the natural law of Machiavellian modus. There is a better way if you look.

  7. Theologically, all points made so far in these comments are sound and reflect, not only a strong desire to support LMU’s catholic identity, but also care and concern for the spiritual life of our students. Just another note, from an alternate direction.

    The matter mentioned in the “keep elective abortion” petition argues that without LMU’s insurance paying for elective abortion there will be a binding of a woman’s conscience on the matter, that LMU must have diverse voices on this issue, et cetera. But not covering this in our insurance could also possibly lower insurance costs which have increased considerably in recent years. LMU is under no legal obligation (this understanding might be incorrect as my understanding of the Affordable Care Act is not stellar) to provide any insurance to its employees; it is a benefit, something added on top of pay. How high can we allow costs to go? It seems the easy fix of raising tuition to cover costs simply cannot be continued. If LMU as a Jesuit institution has social justice as one of its goals, then shouldn’t the exorbitant costs be considered? It seems that may also have been a consideration in modification of coverage.

    However, more troubling in the “keep elective abortion” petition is the one-sided understanding of conscience. If an elective abortion is not covered by insurance, it is still legal, provided at safe clinics; it is simply paid for out of one’s own pocket. The issue shouldn’t be an issue as the woman making the decision would be gainfully employed, having few out of pocket medical expenses as her insurance is very good, would have the opportunity to take adequate sick days for recovery, and has no threat to her employment posed as result of her decision. In fact, it is likely that if one of our colleagues made this difficult choice, LMU faculty and staff would offer care and consideration to her during such a time. No binding of her conscience occurs. Yet that petition seeks to bind the conscience (and the tongues) of any person or institution that disagrees with one point of view and further seeks to end, not foster, discussion by simply labelling the matter discriminatory. Making this elective procedure a part of the insurance plan that every employee and student contributes to the cost of does bind the consciences of those opposed. If it is elective, let it remain elective, and like all elective procedures I am aware of, let covering the cost be a matter for the individual.

    May the debate on this matter reflect LMU’s committment to sincere discussion and rigorous debate.

  8. As a very interested outsider, I applaud the “Renew LMU” Committee and its supporters for actively opposing any disintegration of the Catholic character of LMU. After sending my three children to my once beloved Alma Mater, Notre Dame, I have abandoned any support for ND after its repeated incidents of deterioration to its once strong Catholic identity. My only involvement with ND is through a similar alumni committee to LMU’s Renew, namely ND’s Sycamore Trust. My prayers for the success of RenewLMU and the Sycamore Trust.

  9. As a pro-life person for many years, I urge you to join the array of employers around the US who oppose the Obamacare mandate that violates the freedom of conscience of many religious persons/organizations in accord with the Firtst Amendment to the US constitution.

  10. Catholic identity without supporting Catholic doctrine is hypocrisy at its worst. I trust and pray that the Board of Trustees at LMU has the courage to stand up to these bullies who want to normalize abortion.

  11. I am ashamed that LMU would consider abortion coverage let alone implement it. It should be discontinued immediately as numerous lives could be snuffed out between now and January 1st. The Catholic position is that abortion is the killing of innocent life. Is not LMU a Catholic University? If the employees want abortion coverage they should not expect to be covered at a Catholic Institution but should seek employment elsewhere. What type of Catholic example are we setting for our young adults?

  12. As the mother of two LMU graduates (Barbara Peyton Berg and Regina Peyton Levy), I would like to say that my husband and I sent the girls to LMU knowing that it was a Catholic institution and we assumed would hold Catholic principles for their students to look up to. I would hope that LMU will do the right thing and not provide health insurance coverage for elective abortions which will kill innocent human beings.
    Patricia Peyton, proud mother of 2 LMU graduates

  13. As an alumnus of LMU (’79), I was appalled to find out that we, as Catholics, are paying people to perform abortions! Equally so, that some would expect us to do so! Indeed, demand that we do so! While there can be quibbling over insurance premiums and diversity and mutual respect, there can be no support for the permanence of ending innocent life.

  14. My hope and prayer is that the Board will uphold the principles of the Catholic faith and remove coverage for elective abortion. They have a right, and more importantly, a moral responsibility, to do so. Thank you.

  15. Thanks Barbara for standing up for Catholic teaching. I hope all people of goodwill will support LMU in its effort to remain true to its Catholic identity.

  16. It would be a sad day when a Catholic university was less than willing to stand up for Catholic principles. I have several relatives and friends who are associated with LMU. I am a retired educator hopeful that the university will live up to the Catholic principles of its founders. Abortion is wrong. To support elective abortion is wrong. Do the right thing.

  17. LMU is a Catholic University. Not covering abortion/murder should be an issue which doesn’t even need to be discussed by LMU. The answer is obvious: Life comes first.
    Parent of a (future?) LMU student

  18. To the trustees of Loyola Marymount University:

    My name is Joseph Berg; I am a sophomore at LMU. I am happy and proud to attend and be educated at this institution that is at the head of its competition in so many ways. However, LMU’s stellar reputation would be irreparably sullied by continuing to fund elective abortion. As trustees of this impressive, Catholic institution, you have been trusted with the weighty responsibility of safeguarding and championing LMU’s Catholic integrity as well as her academic integrity. I urge you to honor this profound trust put in you, and to honor the legacy of the countless faithful Catholics who have built and raised this university since her beginnings over a century ago. Thank you for all that you have done for this great institution in the past; I ask you to stop all LMU funding of elective abortions as a vital continuance of your service to the university. Thank you for your time and God bless you.

    With respect and sincerity,
    Joseph Berg, Class of 2016

    • Well stated, Joseph. This Class of 2000 alumna is proud to see the Catholic integrity of LMU supported by current students. God bless you!

  19. As a recent graduate of the CAST program, and a Catholic elementary school teacher, I find it a contradiction to teach my junior high students about the Church’s stance on abortion, and then turn around and support a Catholic institution of higher learning that may approve an insurance policy that allows abortion. I am fighting against secular relativism in my classroom, and I urge the Board to fight for the rights of the unborn and to ratify the decision to exclude coverage for elective abortions.

  20. I endorse the comments voicing objection and protest to the action by the administration and trustees to seemingly take a moral and ethical stance while offering a work-around seeking to assuage Satan and his agenda. I see great erosion in the Catholic character at my alma mater, University of Notre Dame. It hurts to see it at a sister school as well. We must all pray for true discernment, and wisdom, and moral courage for the stewards of Catholic education–those who tend the flame of Catholic education and are charged with maintaining the purity of the baptismal garments of our youth, their students.

  21. As a 1970-74 LMU student, I learned of the sacredness of human life in all its stages from Dr. Ronda Chervin and Dr. Delaney (both philosophy). That is a timeless teaching that needs to be incorporated into LMU’s policies, otherwise, LMU needs to re-incorporate as a private, non-Catholic institution.

  22. I am reminded of the honor code from the service academies…”I will not lie, cheat or steal–or tolerate those who do.” A simpler and more profound vow comes to mind for the current topic of respect for life “I will not advise, engage in, or participate in abortion or infantacide–nor enable or facilitate or provide funds, directly or indirectly to those who do.”

  23. If you really want to know what Pope Francis would think of your latest morally-confused subterfuge of cooperation, send him a letter and ask his opinion.

  24. It is a sad day when a Catholic and Jesuit institution goes against the moral teachings of the Church, her councils, and her hierarchy. Pope Francis, SJ, tells us not to dwell on abortion because the Church´s stand is quite clear, killing unborn children is unacceptable. For LMU to condone and pay for this goes against everything I was taught during my 8 years in Jesuit schools (Loyola High and LMU). Maybe the trustees should just change the name to West LA University and make it a non denominational school, their actions sure seem like that is what they want.

  25. To the trustees of Loyola Marymount University:

    If you wish to abandon your Catholic and Christian heritage, as so many American universities and colleges have from Harvard on down to USC, then by all means, do so. It is such a small thing to put the interests of the so-called living, who are simply those who have already been born, against the interests of those who have not yet been born.

    But if you were to do so, please spare us all the pretense that you remain a Catholic and Christian university.

  26. I had no intentions or remote interest in becoming a priest when I attended LMU 1981-1985. My sights were set on conquering Hollywood to the north. But as I moved on in life, I could no longer stand by and fail to contribute to the mission of the only truth the world has ever known – Jesus and His Church. So since my ordination in 2000, I have tried as a simple parish priest to do in small ways the good that large institutions like LMU fail to do with all the power and influence that they have.

    LMU, like almost all Catholic universities, should be sued for false advertising in their use of the word “Catholic.” When, oh when, will a bold U.S. bishop stand up and cut the cord to his local supplier of dissent? Why do the bishops permit the greater segment of our Catholic education system to continue its pathetic contribution to keeping society ignorant of truth? Sorry, don’t answer that. I’m just sorry that I think I know the answer.

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