By TIM DRAKE
SAN FRANCISCO - [A couple in] San Francisco were shocked by the news that the
Catholic university they are paying to educate their son is promoting abortions.
If a University of San Francisco student involved in a pregnancy went to the
school's Web site for help during the last two semesters, he or she would have
been given only three options: two abortion clinics and a pro-abortion
"Christian" counseling center.
In other words, none of the city's eight pro-life pregnancy resource centers
and maternity homes is mentioned on the Web site - not even the Gabriel Project
at St. Ignatius Catholic Church located on the University of San Francisco's
"It's just outrageous," [the couple] said.
The University of San Francisco is one of at least a dozen Catholic
universities in the United States directing students to Planned Parenthood and
other abortion businesses for information, services and even employment.
The situation comes to light after Dec. 5 words by Pope John Paul II casting
doubt on the Catholic character of abortion-promoting universities.
"Clearly," the Holy Father said, "university centers that do not respect the
laws of the Church and the teachings of the magisterium, particularly in the
areas of bioethics, cannot be endorsed with the character of a Catholic
The University of San Francisco is a Jesuit college. In the past, Jesuit
Superior General Peter Hans Kolvenbach has said, "For some [Jesuit]
universities, it is probably too late to restore their Catholic character."
The Cardinal Newman Society, an organization that works to restore Catholic
identity to Catholic campuses, revealed a list of 12 colleges with offending
links. In addition to the University of San Francisco, the list included Boston
College; St. Xavier University, Loyola University and DePaul University in
Chicago; the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn.; Georgetown University
in Washington, D.C.; John Carroll University in Cleveland; Seattle University;
King's College and Alvernia College in Pennsylvania; and Santa Clara University
The University of San Francisco's Student Health Education Program's
"pregnancy" page not only linked to Planned Parenthood but also provided a
telephone number to Planned Parenthood Golden Gate and a description of its
services. Another link promoted the local pro-abortion Women's Community Clinic.
The links have been up at least since last March.
While most of the "dirty dozen" Web pages feature direct links or telephone
numbers to Planned Parenthood, others go a bit further. Alvernia College in
Reading, Pa., lists Planned Parenthood as a potential site for volunteer work.
DePaul University's department of sociology offers internships at Planned
Parenthood, and its women's studies program lists Planned Parenthood among
several career opportunities for its students.
Negative reaction to the revelations was swift.
"The fact that Catholic colleges have links to Planned Parenthood on their
health service Web pages is another piece of evidence that the word 'abortion'
has lost its meaning, even within many sectors of the Church," said Father Frank
Pavone, president of Priests for Life. He urged all Catholic institutions to
eliminate even the appearance of cooperation with Planned Parenthood and offered
his organization's assistance to any institution to make such changes.
For others, the Web sites are merely the latest signs of many Catholic
universities' reluctance to implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the
Heart of the Church), Pope John Paul II's 1990 apostolic constitution on
Catholic higher education.
"In Ex Corde Ecclesiae, one of the requirements of a Catholic
university is that all official actions and commitments must be in accord with
the university's Catholic identity," said Patrick Reilly, president of the
Cardinal Newman Society. "Anything that is announced or promoted by a
university's Web site is an official action."
Many bishops and Catholic leaders have spoken publicly with regard to Planned
Parenthood. In 1998, Bishop John Yanta of Amarillo, Texas, said, "I ask all
Catholics not to use Planned Parenthood's services, not to belong to any of
their boards, not to serve as a volunteer and not to be employed there."
Feeling the heat of recent publicity and public outrage, at least three of
the universities - the University of San Francisco, Georgetown University and
Boston College - quickly removed or hid their offensive Web pages.
The University of San Francisco's "pregnancy" page now reads, "This portion
of the Web site is currently being reviewed."
The university wouldn't comment for this story but issued a press release to
respond to the criticism.
"The university is taking the concerns that have been expressed to us under
advisement as we review the Student health Education Program Web site intent,"
said the release, signed by Monica Leifer, assistant director of Media relations
for the university.
"In the meantime," it added, "while we make a decision regarding the
information provided on the pregnancy section of the Web site, we have
eliminated all Web site links and are asking our students to contact us directly
Although the link from the "pregnancy" page has been removed as of this
writing, the individual Web pages promoting Planned Parenthood and the Women's
Community Clinic are still available through the university's Web site.
Those pages tout Planned Parenthood as a source for pregnancy testing and
counseling, birth control and emergency contraception (which causes early
abortion) but fail to mention Planned Parenthood's role as the nation's leading
abortion business. The Women's Community Clinic provides pregnancy testing and
counseling and referrals to abortion clinics.
Likewise, Georgetown University apparently removed a "sex health and safety"
page from its Web site. Canada's LifeSite News reported that the page linked to
a Planned Parenthood Web site, promoted the morning-after pill (an
abortion-causing drug) and encouraged the use of sexual aids, including dental
dams and latex gloves for "safer sex." While the page has been removed, it is
still identified by the Web site's search engine.
Reaction on Campus
[A University of San Francisco senior] had one explanation for the links on
the school's Web site.
"The Student Health Education Program has a certain degree of autonomy," he
said, speculating that "the decision was probably made by the current
Neither Melissa Kenzig, coordinator of the student health services program,
nor Margaret Higgins, vice president for university life, returned phone calls
seeking further information about how the material made it onto the Web site.
University of San Francisco senior Peter Halpin said he was not surprised by
the revelation and was angered by it.
"I'm used to these kind of things at the university, but this was even more
blatant," Halpin said. "The fact that the university is no longer trying to hide
it is both indefensible and arrogant."
In response, Halpin wrote an email to the university's president, Jesuit
Father Stephen Privett, and Higgins, listing the alternatives available in San
Francisco and San Jose.
"Neither offered an explanation," Halpin said. "President Privett said that
the university was in full agreement with the Church and the Church's teaching
on abortion. They both said that the Web page was under review. My contentment
will depend upon whether or not the university gets rid of the link."
The university wouldn't respond to requests for an interview about campus
Thomas Harmon, president the Cardinal Newman Society's Association of
Students at Catholic Colleges and a senior at Gonzaga University in Spokane,
Wash., saw the whole question about Web sites in the context of the larger one
about Catholic identity.
"Catholic college students are leading the renewal of Catholic higher
education," Harmon said, adding that his group's emphasis "is on positive campus
programs to teach and promote the Catholic faith, but when an outcry is needed,
college administrators will hear us loud and clear."
Tim Drake writes from St. Cloud, Minnesota.