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Group Protests University’s Abortion Coverage Ban

SCRANTON — The University of Scranton recently made changes to the health care it provides to employees and it’s causing some controversy. The unive...
university of scranton

SCRANTON -- The University of Scranton recently made changes to the health care it provides to employees and it's causing some controversy.

The university plans to stop coverage on all abortions.

On Courthouse Square, only a few blocks from the University of Scranton campus, people from Planned Parenthood and a group called Concerned Clergy for Choice gathered to protest the university's decision to eliminate abortion coverage for employees.

"It lacks compassion for women who need access to healthcare. That`s what it is," Leslie Brown of Planned Parenthood Keystone said.

"In this situation we are talking about the rights of the worker, and my faith has long stood up on behalf of workers and what they earn.  And the Bible teaches that a worker should be paid when wages are due. This is really a question of insurance belonging to the worker and not the boss," said Rabbi Dennis Ross with Concerned Clergy for Choice.

Students at the university said this move made by the president couldn't have been easy.

"He has to follow what the school is doing and what their basic rules are," said senior John Kourgelis.

"It`s a moral issue. It`s really back and forth. A lot of people feel really strongly on both sides of it," added senior Dan Lamoures.

The university currently provides limited coverage for abortions in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of a woman is at risk.

"There will be people that will disagree on abortion rights and then people have their ideology, but when it comes down to a woman being able to have coverage so she can have the best possible healthcare, that to me is what the issue is," Brown said.

The university made the announcement a few weeks ago, and the president says it's the right move for the private, Catholic university.

The University of Scranton has more than 1,000 employees and last month they received an email from the university's president announcing plans to change employee health care coverage.

The changes, he wrote, were to better align the university with Catholic teachings.

President Kevin Quinn wrote to employees: "Considerable deliberation and research has made clear to me that because the university is self-insured we can, and therefore must, offer insurance plans that are free of all abortion coverage."

Eventually, the University of Scranton plans to stop health care coverage of all abortions. Abortions in cases of rape or incest have been covered since the 1990s because university officials say back then it was required by law to cover them.

The change in abortion coverage will be negotiated into employees' next contract.

President Quinn went on to tell employees, "regardless of your personal views on this subject, I hope that you can understand the necessity that as a Catholic institution we must behave consistently with the church's moral teaching on abortion."

But Rabbi Ross said the decision is forcing a religious ideology on many who aren't Catholic.

"Many universities hire the public and serve the public and work with public funds, so it`s not right to take the restrictions of one faith and impose them on different faiths or conscience," he said.

Some who came to the rally said they were there to support the university's decision.

"The trauma that post-abortive women go through is something Planned Parenthood does not discuss," said Colette Hughes of Scott Township.

The university`s president said the school`s insurance still covers medical procedures intended to preserve the life of a mother so long as it does not include an abortion.