The Georgetown University student-run Lecture Fund announced new details this week about its plans to host Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards on campus this month. The scandalous invitation — and the administration’s refusal thus far to step in and cancel the event — has led the Archdiocese of Washington, Georgetown students, pro-life leaders and even a South African cardinal to join The Cardinal Newman Society in publicly criticizing the University for compromising its Catholic identity.
The Lecture Fund is officially calling the event “A Conversation with Cecile Richards.” The “conversation” will take place Wednesday, April 20 at 2 p.m. in Lohrfink Auditorium. The lecture will be closed to the public.
A description of the event on Lecture Fund’s Facebook page doesn’t specify the extent of Richards’ lecture, and offers no biographical information about Richards other than noting that she is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. The rest of the event description reads as a promotion of Planned Parenthood and the “services” the organization provides:
The Georgetown University Lecture Fund, a student-run organization, is hosting a conversation with Cecile Richards on April 20th, 2016.
Cecile Richards is the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, national organizations that work for a healthier world for women and teens. Over 650 Planned Parenthood health centers provide health care services to 2.5 million people and sex education and outreach to 1.5 million people every year. Planned Parenthood Action Fund is the leading advocate for reproductive rights across the country. For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood – and their 8.5 million supporters – have worked to give women, men and young people access to the care and information they need to build the future they want. No matter what.”
** This event will be open only to those with a valid GU ID. **
** No livestream will be available for this event. **
** No bags will be allowed into the event venue, and there will be a security check before entering Lohrfink. **
A flyer lists the student groups GU College Democrats, United Feminists and Georgetown University Women of Color, along with the unofficial student groups H*yas for Choice and Medical Students for Choice, as co-sponsors for the event.
The Lecture Fund has stated that Richards will not be paid to speak, but there will be costs associated with this event — likely paid for by tuition and donations meant to provide a Catholic education.
When The Cardinal Newman Society first broke the news on March 2 about the invitation to have Richards speak at Georgetown, Newman Society President Patrick Reilly said: “This is the latest in a long history of scandal at Georgetown University. Disguised as an academic event, this is nothing more than a platform for abortion advocacy at a Catholic university and under the nose of the Catholic bishops, featuring a wicked woman who defends the sale of baby body parts and is responsible for the deaths of millions of aborted children.”
Looking at the Facebook description, it seems clear that the event is a blatant promotion of Planned Parenthood.
As the Newman Society has pointed out, Richards is responsible for the deaths of more than 2.8 million babies since becoming the head of Planned Parenthood in 2006. And in addition to being known as the largest facilitator of abortions in the U.S., Planned Parenthood promotes the use of contraceptive drugs and devices to avoid pregnancy (including abortifacient “emergency contraception”), and encourages teenagers to masturbate and engage in sexual activity. All of these activities are considered moral evils by the Church.
Public outcry to remove taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood erupted in the past year with the release of undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood employees involved in the selling of body parts procured from aborted babies. Planned Parenthood receives over half a billion dollars in government funding each year from both federal and state sources.
During her testimony before Congress last September about what was revealed in the undercover videos, Richards said she was “proud” of Planned Parenthood’s role in “supporting fetal tissue research” by harvesting the body parts of aborted babies.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) responded to the videos saying their content shows Planned Parenthood’s failure “to respect the humanity and dignity of human life.” The USCCB also argued that federal funds should be stripped from Planned Parenthood:
The most recent revelations about Planned Parenthood’s willingness to traffic in fetal tissue from abortions, and to alter abortion methods not for any reason related to women’s health but to obtain more ‘intact’ organs, is the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans.
In January, the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities issued a fact sheet titled “Planned Parenthood: Setting the Record Straight” that highlighted the organization’s misleading statistics, promotion of contraception to minors, relentless efforts to oppose any laws regulating abortions and the enormous revenues reaped by the so-called “non-profit” organization.
University officials and Georgetown’s student newspaper are defending having Richards speak on campus as a protection of “free speech.” But as the Archdiocese of Washington newspaper, The Catholic Standard, pointed out in an editorial, “[F]raming this around the issues of student autonomy and free speech misses the key point.”
“The invitation by the student group to the head of Planned Parenthood to speak on campus does not reflect what should be an ‘environment of morality, ethics and human decency that one expects on a campus that asserts its Jesuit and Catholic history and identity,’” the editorial stated, explaining that, “A Catholic university has a solemn obligation in truth and love to speak out against objective evils and reinforce its Catholic identity.”
“Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest facilitator of abortions; its annual report claims that the organization in fiscal year 2014 committed 327,653 abortions in the United States. To invite its leader to speak at a Catholic institution is akin to students at an historically black university inviting a white supremacist, or a women’s college inviting a misogynist, or a Jewish institution inviting an anti-Semite or Holocaust denier,” the editorial continued.
The Newman Society is still collecting signatures at www.GeorgetownScandal.com, calling on Georgetown to formally rescind the invitation to Richards, and restore its Catholic identity and fidelity, “which have been diminished and even scorned in recent decades.”