Previously posted at the original Soapblox site on Sat Sep 26, 2015 at 18:34:59 PM CDT
Dear Chancellor Loftin:
I was horrified to learn yesterday that you and your colleagues at the University of Missouri had submitted meekly to the bullying of Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaeffer and were willing revoke the “refer and follow” designation that constitutes an acceptable licensure for a doctor to offer abortions at the Columbia Planned Parenthood.
I understand the implied political pressure underlying Senator Schaeffer’s logically tortured contention that granting University of Missouri hospital privileges to a doctor who performed abortions at the Columbia Planned Parenthood would put the university, a taxpayer funded institution, in the position of violating state restrictions on using taxpayer funds to fund abortions. I do actually understand that the University is in a bad position since it depends on dishonest folks like Senator Schaefer to fund much of its operations.
But does legislative pressure justify spineless capitulation to Senator Schaefer’s spurious assertions? Clearly, granting hospital privileges to a doctor in no way makes the University legally responsible for the full range of that doctor’s actions outside of the University hospital. There’s no way taxpayer funds are being used to pay for abortions through the University’s actions.
Nor can the statement of the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff of the hospital that the refer and follow designation is “outdated and unnecessary” be true if eliminating it has the result of curtailing the ability of physicians to whom it had previously been granted to ensure the health and well-being of their patients. And this decision demonstrably does just that.
Worse, for a taxpayer-funded, governmental entity such as MU is the fact that, through the legislature, Senator Schaeffer’s religiously-motivated “Sanctity of Life” committee is bringing its clearly religious views about abortion to bear on the activities of the university. Last I heard universities are mandated to serve a larger, more diverse community than those narrow religious groups that have chosen to demonize a legal medial process. I also harbor a belief that, in this context, universities are required to respect the separation of church and state – as, of course, the legislature should as well.
But when we leave the legalities behind, your willingness to placate Senator Schaefer’s political aspirations to make a name for himself as an anti-abortion crusader takes on an even darker cast. Years ago when I was a college student there was a belief that universities were places where our intellectual and ethical traditions were preserved and passed along and enlarged. We didn’t go to college just to get a well-paying job, but also to become better people and better citizens.
University officials such as yourself were supposed to be the guardians of the system which stood, in those long ago days, for more than the commodification of education. Can you really say, after your abject surrender to an ugly little backwater state senator, that you or your compliant medical staff committee function as guardians of the university’s highest goals? Do you even care?
It is difficult to see the decision of your institution to cooperate in limiting women’s health resources in your community as anything other than craven. I am sure that you are aware that an ideologically driven legislature is not the only group to which you answer. Public support of the university system is essential if it is to prosper. Can you really expect to retain that support when you show so little regard for your mission?