A new campus anti-abortion group is asking Yale to refund a portion of the University health plan that covers abortion procedures, arguing that students who oppose the practice should not have to subsidize it.
The group, Choose Life at Yale College, or CLAY, plans to lobby University Health Services to allow students who say they oppose abortion to request a nominal $1 rebate. Sarah Heiman ’05, who founded CLAY last spring, said the campaign was inspired by a similar policy at Harvard University.
The Harvard policy, which is printed in the school’s Guide to University Health Services, allows students to request rebates of slightly over $1 if they claim in writing to have “strong moral objections to sharing the cost of elective abortions.”
David S. Rosenthal, Harvard’s director of health services, told the Harvard Crimson in March that anywhere from 80 to 101 students have requested the rebate in a given year.
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said he was not aware of the Yale group’s effort and could not comment.
Maria Keating ’05, the group’s treasurer, said the rebate is more symbolic than practical.
“We want students who don’t support abortion to be recognized,” she said. “The rebate isn’t about receiving money. It’s about acknowledgment.”
Heiman said she founded the group in response to campus reaction to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all states. She said anti-abortion opinions were not represented on campus, and she was inspired to start a group. Heiman said the group is meant to raise awareness of anti-abortion positions, not antagonize abortion rights groups.
“We’re focusing on getting the issue out: abortion isn’t the only option you have,” Heiman said. “We want the college environment to be open to that choice so that pregnant women won’t feel as though they’re being ostracized.”
Heiman said the group may also focus on other topics such as capital punishment and euthanasia. She said they hope to show that opposing abortion does not necessarily imply moral positioning or religious commentary.
“We respect people’s right to choose and don’t plan on hindering them from pursuing an abortion. We just want people to know that you can choose life,” Heiman said.
Representatives for the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale, or RALY, an abortion rights group, said CLAY will not affect the group’s efforts.
“We’re about raising awareness and promoting safe decisions and choices, and we won’t get into a trivial shouting match with a supposedly-rival group,” representatives from the group said in a written statement. “Probably the main effect of CLAY on RALY will be to make members of RALY (and of the entire Yale community) realize the importance of our continued fight to ensure women the ability to create their own futures as they choose.”