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Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. held an official “Respect Life” forum, the first for the Jesuit university that last year saw Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards receive a standing ovation from students.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D,C., headlined the Oct. 2 forum event titled, “Lives Worthy of Respect.” Wuerl told more than 300 students that popular culture’s view of “choice” has now come to mean that “human life is increasingly held cheap, as violence stalks our communities, suicide is on the increase nationwide, and, in some states, instead of saving lives, there are physicians who help to end lives.”
National Catholic Register reports Wuerl continued:
Once you accept the thesis that it is all right to kill human life before it is born, or as it nears its end, or for some other reason, at almost any time, you accept two premises: that we, human beings, have the ultimate say over all life and who gets to live and that such a decision is ultimately arbitrary.
According to the Register, the idea for the pro-life event came from Georgetown faculty members. Dr. Kevin Donovan, director of the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics and professor of pediatrics at Georgetown University Medical Center, moderated the forum.
University president John DeGioia publicly supported the event.
“We are the beneficiaries of a profound spiritual and moral tradition that has been shaped over the course of two millennia,” DeGioia said, adding that Georgetown is responsible for that tradition, for “ensuring that it is present to us.”
The university president thanked campus groups that promote the Church’s teaching on human life and dignity and also quoted St. John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae on how “every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart.”
“Each of us is asked to heed this call,” DeGioia said.
The forum also featured Helen Alvaré from George Mason University School of Law; Tony Lauinger, vice president of National Right to Life and a Georgetown alumnus; Sister of St. Joseph Mary Louise Wessell, founder and program manager for the Tenant Empowerment Network (TEN) at Catholic Charities; and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio.
Donovan said that, during October – when the Church in the United States celebrates “Respect Life Month” – the university had an ideal opportunity to make a strong public witness to the university’s Catholic and Jesuit traditions.
“We received a lot of very positive responses, both to the concept and the execution,” he told the Register.
Donovan added that while they planned the pro-life forum to show how individuals from various professions are insisting all lives are “worthy of respect,” the speakers showed how the term “pro-life” reflects not only a position against abortion, but also for the advocacy of all human life from conception to natural death.
Georgetown officials were criticized by some Catholic and pro-life leaders last year for permitting an address by Planned Parenthood president Richards, who was greeted with a standing ovation in April 2016 as she addressed some 400 students.
“Inviting this organization’s president to speak unchallenged on our Catholic campus is deeply disturbing and shameful,” Michael Khan, president of Georgetown University Right to Life, told Breitbart News at the time. “This is a slap in the face to all that we stand for as a university, but campus administrators seem to have no problem with it. It seems President DeGioia and other school authorities are more concerned with political correctness and expediency than our Catholic identity.”
Students and faculty of Georgetown drafted a letter to administrators about Richards’ planned visit to the school.
“We are wondering where the line is drawn – and whether or not others around the world who promote the violation of basic human rights would also be allowed to speak on Georgetown’s campus,” Khan said. “It seems that, based on Georgetown’s decision, school administrators view abortion as morally different from other human rights violations, like slavery and child labor, and therefore the promotion of its use is acceptable speech on a Catholic campus.”
Khan said Richards has a “complete lack of respect for the dignity of human life, as someone who proudly proclaims to ‘shout your abortion,’ is unbecoming of our university.”
“I can’t wait for the day that partisan politics gets out of reproductive health care in America,” Richards said in her address, tweeted Georgetown University’s student newspaper, The Hoya.
Meanwhile, taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood’s political action arm spent some $30 million on Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential election. Clinton stated repeatedly during her campaign that “the unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, observed to the Register the “dualism on Catholic college and university campuses.”
“On the one hand, we find a passionate support for preborn children and their mothers from many students and real courage to confront the popular culture that Planned Parenthood tries to dominate,” she said. “On the other hand, too often, the students have to overcome resistance from school leadership.”
“Sadly, the pro-abortion bent of a lot of institutes of higher learning is just as prevalent at many Catholic schools as at any other college or university, as there often doesn’t seem to be a requirement for university staff to actually believe in the tenets of our faith,” she added. “But students are on fire to make a difference, and they are.”