An editorial in the Catholic Standard – the online news magazine of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. – condemned an invited address by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards at Georgetown University – the nation’s oldest Catholic university.
The editorial board blasted the response of the university after the head of the top abortion business in the country was invited to speak. Its leadership says the Catholic university is committed to the “free exchange of ideas.”
The editors write:
Giving a forum to the head of a group that is the nation’s largest facilitator of abortion and that this past year has been embroiled in a controversy over some of its officials casually discussing the sale of the body parts of aborted fetuses, is antithetical to the mission and Catholic identity of Georgetown University, the nation’s first Catholic university, which was founded in 1789.
As the Archdiocese of Washington noted in its statement on this matter, the invitation by a Georgetown University-sanctioned student organization reflects on the part of its membership what appears to be a lack of any understanding of morality, ethics and human decency that one expects on a campus that asserts its Jesuit and Catholic history and identity.
It may be that Georgetown is committed to free speech and the exchange of ideas, yet it would surely not offer a speaking invitation to a provocative figure known for anti-Semitic or racist or anti-gay or misogynistic views. Welcoming an ardent supporter of the violent taking of an unborn human life is deeply offensive and heart-rending to other Georgetown students, teachers, alumni and community members who believe in the Catholic teaching that all human life has God-given dignity from conception to natural death. Apparently to some, the one group of people that it is acceptable to offend, even at a Catholic university, are Catholics.
The nation’s top Catholic education organization has also launched a protest of Georgetown for allowing Richards to give a lecture at the school.
The Cardinal Newman Society is asking individuals to register their protest of the visit and is calling on Georgetown to uphold its Catholic identity by rescinding the Lecture Fund’s invitation to Richards.
“This is the latest in a long history of scandal at Georgetown University,” said Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly. “Disguised as an academic event, this is nothing more than a platform for abortion advocacy at a Catholic university and under the nose of the Catholic bishops, featuring a wicked woman who defends the sale of baby body parts and is responsible for the deaths of millions of aborted children.”
As the head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its political arm – Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) – Richards actively promotes positions that directly contradict Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of human life and on human sexuality.
Additionally, calls for Planned Parenthood’s defunding of taxpayer dollars have been acted upon at both state and federal levels, especially since the release last summer of undercover videos exposing the abortion business’ apparent practices of selling the body parts of aborted babies on the open market and altering the position of babies during abortion in order to harvest the most intact organs.
Richards has publicly attacked the U.S. bishops in the past for opposing abortion, arguing that teaching about the dignity of human life from conception was an anti-women stance. In 2009, she wrote that if the U.S. bishops had their way, “the national health care system would make American women second-class citizens.”
“The danger, of course, is not simply that the bishops are pushing to erode decades of legal access to contraception and abortion in America. Their hard-line opposition to women’s rights also endangers millions of women around the globe,” said Richards, adding, “The effort to criminalize access to safe abortion endangers most women in the developing world — the very women that you would think the bishops would be concerned about.”
The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. itself issued a statement regarding the visit of Planned Parenthood’s president to Georgetown, a portion of which is below:
Recently it was reported that the Lecture Fund – a student-run organization at Georgetown University – had invited the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund to speak at the university. The university insists that this is a matter of student autonomy and free speech, although the same student organization is selective in what it accepts for discussion and whom they invite.
In any case, this is not our issue here. What we lament and find sadly lacking in this choice by the student group is any reflection of what should be an environment of morality, ethics and human decency that one expects on a campus that asserts its Jesuit and Catholic history and identity.
One would prefer to see some recognition by this student group of the lives and ministry, focus and values of people like Blessed Óscar Romero, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Pope Francis in place of that group’s seemingly constant preoccupation with sexual activity, contraception and abortion. The Archdiocese of Washington is always open and ready to dialogue with the students, faculty and administration of the University on issues of such significance.
The apparent unawareness of those pushing the violence of abortion and the denigration of human dignity that there are other human values and issues being challenged in the world lends credence to the perception of the “ivory tower” life of some on campus. This unfortunately does not speak well for the future. One would hope to see this generation of Georgetown graduates have a far less self-absorbed attitude when facing neighbors and those in need, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Reilly said that having Richards speak at Georgetown “is the latest in a long history of scandal” at the university.
“In bringing in someone with such a horrendous record of not only advocating ideas that would be contrary to Catholic teaching, but is herself responsible for the deaths of more than two million babies under her watch, Georgetown demonstrates that it does not understand the nature of a Catholic university,” he said.