Pro-Life Leaders Respond to Scandalous Georgetown Invite of Planned Parenthood CEO

Adam Cassandra

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Publication Date: March 08, 2016

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The leaders of several national pro-life organizations were extremely critical of the administration of Georgetown University in statements published today over Georgetown’s defense of allowing Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards to speak on campus in April.

The Newman Society broke the news on March 2 that the Lecture Fund at Georgetown invited Richards to campus. The Lecture Fund “is a non-partisan student-run organization that exists to enrich the academic experience of the Georgetown community,” according to the group’s website. “The Lecture Fund strives to bring speakers to Georgetown’s campus to enlighten, educate and, occasionally, entertain.” Richards is not being paid to speak.

The University issued a statement the next day defending its decision to allow Richards to speak on campus, citing Georgetown’s commitment to “the free exchange of ideas.”

“As the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, Georgetown University is proud to be a university that deeply values our faith tradition and that encourages the free exchange of ideas,” according to the statement. “We respect our students’ right to express their personal views and are committed to sustaining a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable to some.”

But Priests for Life National Director Father Frank Pavone told the National Catholic Register in an interview published today that allowing Richards to speak on campus “is not a matter of free speech or academic freedom.”

“The abortion controversy is not about viewpoints, but about victims,” he said. “It is not simply about beliefs, but about bloodshed.”

As the Newman Society pointed out in its original report on the controversy, according to PPFA’s records of “abortion services” disclosed in annual reports, Richards has overseen the deaths of over 2.8 million babies since taking charge of the organization in 2006 (2014: 323,999 deaths; 2013: 327,653 deaths; 2012: 327,166 deaths; 2011: 333,964 deaths; 2010: 329,445 deaths; 2009: 331,796 deaths; 2008: 324,008 deaths; 2007: 305,310 deaths; 2006: 289,750 deaths).

“Georgetown University’s defense for inviting the head of the largest criminal enterprise and child-killing industry in America adds more evidence to the argument I advanced in my new book, Abolishing Abortion: that the debate over abortion — even within the Church — has become far too abstract for our own good,” Fr. Pavone told the Register.

Fr. Pavone also suggested that Georgetown is violating its own free speech policy by allowing Richards to speak.

According to the University’s Speech and Expression Policy, there are some limits the administration is willing to impose on free speech.

“The right of free speech and expression does not include unlawful activity or activity that endangers or imminently threatens to endanger the safety of any member of the community or any the community’s physical facilities, or any activity that disrupts or obstructs the functions of the University or imminently threatens such disruption or obstruction,” the policy states. “Moreover, expression that is indecent or is grossly obscene or grossly offensive on matters such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation is inappropriate in a university community and the University will act as it deems appropriate to educate students violating this principle.”

The policy goes on to stipulate that “these qualifications are naturally subject to interpretation,” and students can file an appeal to the vice president for student affairs through a “Speech and Expression Committee” if they believe the policy has been misapplied.

Fr. Pavone said, “Cecile Richards’ speech, as well as actions, endanger and imminently threaten the unborn, including those whose parents may be on campus,” and he argued that the “grossly offensive language of Cecile Richards and Planned Parenthood toward the unborn, refusing to recognize their humanity and basic rights, based on age and dependency, is likewise inappropriate.”

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