by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 12, 2005
Toronto, Canada (LifeNews.com) — The University of Western Ontario’s decision to award an honorary degree to an abortion practitioner has proven costly to the college.
A two million-dollar bequest has been withdrawn and other alumni are threatening to sever their ties with the school, after Western Ontario decided to honor abortionist Henry Morgentaler. Morgentaler, who runs abortion facilities in several Canadian provinces, is one of ten people selected by the university’s senate committee for the honorary awards. He is scheduled to receive the doctor of law degree June 16.
In protest, several donors have retracted their pledges, including the two million-dollar bequest from an unnamed retired business executive.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that with literally thousands of alumni upset that it has some effect,” said Don McDougall, chair of the university’s board of governors.
However, the university is standing firm in its decision.
“(The senate committee) considered the many ramifications of this honorary degree, decided that Dr. Morgentaler merited it and made the decision that it should be awarded,” said president Paul Davenport.
But that has not stopped pro-life activists from raising objections.
McDougall sent a letter to the university community saying that he believes the decision “will depreciate the honor, adversely affect fundraising…(and) do irreparable harm to the reputation of the university.”
McDougall told the news media, “From Day 1 I felt that it was a mistake from the reputation of the university point of view.”
However, Davenport claims that the decision will not have a negative impact on fundraising in the long term. In fact, he said one alumnus sent a check for $10,000 in support of the university’s decision.
“I’ve been president here for 11 years. Every time there is a controversy, whether it’s over building a new residence or a demonstration in the students center, I get statements from people who say, ‘Well, I’m not giving this’ or ‘I’m not giving that,’” Davenport told the media.
Davenport said the university just finished a $327-million fundraising campaign. “I’m confident that we will continue to raise money from people who believe in us,” he added.
Earlier this year, Henry Lamb, former vice-president of the Campaign Life Coalition, told the London Free Press the decision to give the abortionist an honorary degree was “unbelievable.”
"He’s the last person I’d think would be on anybody’s list whether you’re pro-life or not," Lamb said. "I have a real hard time with it because the (abortion) issue hasn’t even been properly debated in this country, and they want to make Henry Morgentaler a doctor of laws when there is no law," Lamb added.