Seton Hall’s Abortion Award Explanation Fails to Convince Pro-Lifers

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 16, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Seton Hall’s Abortion Award Explanation Fails to Convince Pro-Lifers

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
April 16, 2004

Newark, NJ ( — Responding to inquiries and criticism about the decision to award the 12th annual Sandra Day O’Connor Medal of Honor to a judge that struck down New Jersey’s partial-birth abortion ban, Seton Hall University, the state’s only Catholic university, says the decision is not a reflection of the University’s policy.

"Seton Hall University’s commitment to the Gospel of life is absolute," said Dr. Mel J. Shay, Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs in a statement, referring to the Catholic Church’s pro-life position. "The award that will be given at the Law School is not a reflection of University policy. The University regrets whatever confusion or misunderstanding this has caused."

But the explanation doesn’t satisfy leading pro-life advocates.

Fr. Peter West of Priests for Life believes the institution’s actions in presenting the award to pro-abortion Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals speak louder than its words.

"The Gospel of Life as well as common human decency requires that we not honor those who devalue and fail to protect innocent human life," Fr. West told "Partial-birth abortion is one the most horrific attack on a human being imaginable. By honoring those who would keep such a procedure legal shows that Seton Hall University Law School has given mere lip service to ‘the Gospel of Life’ while continuing to betray it in deed."

Pro-life advocates also complain the award is named in honor of and presented by O’Connor, a pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice responsible for overturning a Nebraska ban on partial-birth abortions, thus declaring dozens of partial-birth abortion laws invalid.

This isn’t the first time Seton Hall University has honored pro-abortion officials.

In 1998, Governor Christine Todd Whitman received the O’Connor Medal of Honor. Whitman, who vetoed the New Jersey partial-birth abortion ban, also did not support the Catholic Church’s pro-life position.

James Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark of which Seton Hall is a part, said Archbishop John Myers "is extremely upset by" the award.

"The Archdiocese was not notified of the Law school’s intent to present this award, nor were we involved in any way in the selection of any individual for an award," Goodness wrote.

"Catholic teaching recognizes that every life is sacred and deserving of protection under the law," Goodness added. "Catholic institutions of higher learning have a choice in whom they honor. It would be inappropriate and inconsistent for the Archdiocese to endorse the selection for special recognition of anyone who undermines the assurance of legal protections for the unborn."

So many pro-life Catholics have called the college to complain that Seton Hall has established a special hotline for calls related to the award.

"Seton Hall University has betrayed its Catholic heritage," said Fr. West. "For this event to take place at a Catholic institution is a betrayal of the highest order."

The award is made possible by the Seton Hall Women’s Law Forum, the Seton Hall Law Review and the Seton Hall Legislative Bureau, and will take place on Friday at the Seton Hall School of Law. According to the University, the award "honors women who have distinguished themselves in the fields of law and public service."

ACTION: Contact Seton Hall University and the Archdiocese of Newark to voice your concerns.

Archbishop John Myers, 973-497-4190, [email protected]
Msgr. Robert Sheeran, 973-761-9620, [email protected]
Dean Patrick Hobbs, 973-642-8750, [email protected]

Seton Hall "Hotline" for complaints about the Sandra Day O’Connor Medal of Honor: 973-378-9856

Related Sites:
Seton Hall University –
Priests for Life –