The national pro-life advocacy group Students for Life is pressuring Catholic colleges to remove Planned Parenthood internships, programming, even web links, from their campuses.
“Catholic universities should not be promoting abortion nor Planned Parenthood,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “Catholic universities should be promoting respect for all human life.”
Thursday morning, the group issued an news release naming a librarian at the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, who it said had defended listing Planned Parenthood under “resources” on the library’s website.
The College of Saint Rose did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Students for Life, the school’s librarian had not removed the reference to Planned Parenthood.
Matt Lamb is a spokesman for Students for Life Action, the political wing of the nonprofit that has more that 1,200 campus chapters nationwide. He said Thursday that the group also had sent letters to other Catholic and Christian colleges including Augustana College, a Lutheran school in Rock Island, Illinois, and Seattle University, urging them to remove references to Planned Parenthood.
On Tuesday, Students for Life reported that Seattle University — a Jesuit college in Washington state — had complied with the group’s request, pulling Planned Parenthood from a website listing “student resources.”
Mr. Lamb said he anticipates the group intends to target and call out Catholic colleges and universities that hire faculty who support Planned Parenthood, as well.
“Our big thing is that universities should really … have a code of conduct that their faculty will support the dignity of human life,” he said in a telephone interview.
He equated anyone working for Planned Parenthood as “someone who is involved in a sex trafficking organization or the porn industry.”
Mr. Lamb said he is not “advocating for anyone to get fired,” but that a school would say, “we wouldn’t hire someone who work for an organization that supports abortion [because] then you’re complicit in abortion.”
Just over 50% of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a 2015 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute.
But the church’s official teaching states that “abortion willed either as an end or a means” is “gravely contrary to the moral law.”
Of the nearly 200 Catholic college and universities in America, few are diocesan schools under direct authority of a bishop.
The College of Saint Rose, for example, was founded in 1906 by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet and describes itself as “private, independent, co-educational.” College of Saint Rose’s mission statement does not identify the school as Roman Catholic.
“An authentic Catholic college would never direct students to Planned Parenthood,” Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic higher education organization, said in a statement. “Sadly, many Catholic colleges today have secularized and are not serious about teaching truth.”
But the group Catholics for Choice issued a statement opposing that view.
“This overreaction of the anti-choice group, Students for Life, portrays a profound lack of confidence in their ability to convince the body of students at Catholic universities and colleges to adhere to the group’s ultraconservative position against a woman’s right to choose,” said Sara Hutchinson Ratcliffe, vice president of Catholics for Choice. “What’s more, the shameful climate of censorship being promoted is truly anathema to [Cardinal John Henry] Newman’s ideal of what a Catholic university should be.”
• Christopher Vondracek can be reached at email@example.com.
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