Last April, Xavier University in Cincinnati made headlines when
its president, Father Michael J.
Graham, SJ, announced that the school would
be dropping contraception and sterilization coverage from its health insurance
plan as of July 1. That change was not implemented, however, and Father Graham
now regrets his previous announcement, according to a recent interview.
In the spring, Graham reviewed Xavier’s
insurance policies in light of the Obama administration’s mandate that all
policies provide coverage for contraception and sterilization. The Jesuit
university was already covering those services under its plan, and in an April 2 letter to
the university community, Graham announced that this coverage would be
suspended as of July 1, in the middle of the insurance plan period.
“As a Catholic priest and as
president of a Catholic university, I have concluded that, absent a legal
mandate, it is inconsistent for a Catholic institution to cover those drugs and
procedures the Church opposes,” Graham said in his letter.
Now it seems Father Graham has
changed his mind.
Graham’s original interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer is behind a
firewall, but Inside
Higher Ed has confirmed the details:
The policy change
was announced in an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer, although the decision was made earlier, said Kelly Leon, a
university spokeswoman. In the interview, the Jesuit university’s president,
the Rev. Michael J. Graham, said he faults himself for his handling of the
situation. While he disagrees strongly
with the mandate, he told the newspaper, he said he believes universities
should set a moderate example for the nation. …
decision -- which would have taken effect in the middle of the health insurance
plan period, on July 1 -- provoked an outcry from faculty and staff, in part
because the decision would apply to married couples, non-Catholics, and those
who did not agree with church teachings on birth control, and because it was
made without consulting employees. Faculty met with Father Graham to express
their displeasure, Leon said Friday, and he agreed to postpone the change until
the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act in June, the university
decided to continue covering contraception after all, since it would be
required as of Aug. 1, 2013, anyway, Leon said.
e-mail to Inside Higher Ed, Leon said Father Graham reiterated
his opposition to the contraception mandate as a violation of employers’
religious freedom. “Religious institutions have never been asked to violate
their consciences in this profound a manner,” he said.