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.