Saturday, March 19, 2016

Help A Great University Remain True To Its Values!

here is a very special message from Georgetown University Right to Life:


My name is Michael Khan, president of Georgetown University Right to Life. 

I'm sure many of you have heard about Georgetown's invitation of Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, to speak (unchallenged) on campus in April. 

We as students are doing as much as we can to pressure administrators to act, but we could also use your support!

First, I'm hoping each of you can write a letter of your own to campus administrators (listed below)  to express your concern about the invitation. (I attached a template letter we sent to students for guidance if helpful). And ask others to do the same - the more the better!!

Rev. O'Brian -
Dean Olson -
Dr. Jeanne Lord -
Dr. Groves -

I also attached a letter we are sending on behalf of us and some other student groups on campus, which conveys our thoughts on the matter. Please feel free to use our language in any letters you send. 

Finally, please sign this online Georgetown-specific petition (here), in addition to a national petition we drafted along with Students for Life of America (here).  

Please spread the word about all this - reaching out to alumni or donors and other concerned people/Catholics is the best way to make a difference!

Thank you all!! With your help, we can succeed!


DRAFT of letter you and others can send to the administration!  This version can be used if you don’t want to write your own copy.  Please, however, feel free to write a more personalized version!

President DeGioia, Dr. Olson, Dr. Lord, Deans, Provosts, Faculty, and Administration of Georgetown University,

I am a (student/alum/parent/donor) of Georgetown University, and am shocked and dismayed by the Lecture Fund’s invitation to Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood, to speak on campus. Her lecture would conflict with the University’s mission as a Catholic and Jesuit university, would violate the University's Free Speech and Expression Policy, would contradict the University's policy on abortion, and would not serve the educational purpose of the University's student organizations.

1. Planned Parenthood President's lecture would be contrary to Georgetown's Catholic and Jesuit identity. Allowing a lecture by Cecile Richards on campus would place the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in contradiction with the Catholic teaching it must uphold, the U.S. Conference for Catholic Bishops' policy for educational institutions it must follow, and the Jesuit principle of cura personalis it supports. First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that abortion “is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (Catechism 2271) Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood advocate for abortion, in contravention of such teaching. Second, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” (Catholics in Political Life, 2004) A Lecture Fund address by Cecile Richards gives Planned Parenthood the platform to advocate for abortion to the Georgetown community in defiance of the natural law. The University’s issuance of a media advisory on March 3 about the event is insufficient and does not relieve the University of its responsibility to protect its identity and standing as the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university. Third, the University’s commitment to the Jesuit principle of cura personalis –care of the whole person—means providing support and compassion to pregnant women. This is why the University provides housing and a crisis phone number for pregnant students and therapy for post-abortive women. Allowing a speaker who encourages others to have abortions and celebrates her own past abortion is not supportive to pregnant students.

2. Planned Parenthood President's lecture would violate the free speech and expression policy. Contrary to the University's statement, Cecile Richards’ speech would not be permissible under Georgetown University's Free Speech and Expression policy, and in fact, violates it. First, the policy prohibits expression that “endangers or imminently threatens to endanger the safety of any member of the community…” Cecile Richards advocates for the killing of innocent human life by abortion. The Catholic Church teaches that an abortion involves “irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.” (Catechism 2272). Giving Planned Parenthood a platform to advocate for abortion endangers unborn children, expectant parents, and the University community as a whole. The University community must keep in mind that vulnerable pregnant women, and particularly pregnant students struggling with the prospects of having a child and the pressure of finishing their educations, are within the Georgetown University community. Secondly, the speech and expression policy does not cover “expression that is indecent or is grossly obscene or grossly offensive.” Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood are long-standing supporters of the partial-birth abortion procedure, which involves the partial delivery and grossly offensive destruction of an innocent human life. Hosting an abortion advocate on campus is offensive and hurtful to those healing from a past abortion.

3. Planned Parenthood President's lecture would violate Georgetown's policy on abortion advocacy. Georgetown University refuses to recognize student organizations whose positions on abortion gravely violate the Catholic and Jesuit identity of the university. Cecile Richards’ lecture is no different. Georgetown should not allow abortion advocacy and use of University lecture space through a recognized student organization, the Lecture Fund, because to do so would allow recognized student organizations to operate as front groups for unrecognized abortion advocacy groups. Use of University lecture space is a benefit that is granted only to recognized student organizations.

4. Planned Parenthood President's lecture would fail to satisfy the mission of the Lecture Fund. The Lecture Fund states that its aim as a student organization is to bring speakers to campus that “educate or entertain.” Cecile Richards’ comments would do neither. Richards’ lecture would not teach students about fundamental principles of Catholicism and would ridicule the University’s identity as a Catholic and Jesuit institution. Such a speech would also be gravely disturbing to those in the University community who need healing from a past abortion. Cecile Richards does not elevate our public discourse – she debases it.

I am reminded of a quote from His Holiness Pope Francis, who argues “the right to life is the first among human rights.” I am wondering where the line is drawn – and whether or not others around the world who promote the violation of basic human rights would also be allowed to speak on Georgetown’s campus. It seems that, based on Georgetown’s decision, school administrators view abortion as morally different from other human rights violations, like slavery and child labor, and therefore the promotion of its use is acceptable speech on a Catholic campus. As Pope John Paul II outlines in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, “the identity of a Catholic University is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine.” This speaker’s complete lack of respect for the dignity of human life, as someone who proudly proclaims to “shout your abortion,” is unbecoming of our university.

Our speech policy states that “expression that is indecent or is grossly obscene or grossly offensive” is inappropriate on campus. Surely, the administration would rightfully enforce this policy when it comes to, for instance, racist speech, but apparently speech that promotes the harming or killing of children is not of concern. This inconsistency in enforcing the speech codes troubles many of us. Catholic doctrine and science tell us that unborn children in the womb are just that – children (with no fewer rights than you or I have). I write to remind you of this basic principle.

Georgetown can do better than allowing for a woman whose mission is to devalue human dignity and legalize murder to speak on an unchallenged platform, and I hope it lives up to its mission and obligations.


No comments: