The Lecture Fund at Georgetown University is planning to host Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards on campus this April, The Cardinal Newman Society has learned. “This is the latest in a long history of scandal at Georgetown University,” said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “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.” The student chairperson of the Lecture Fund confirmed via an email to the Newman Society that Richards will speak at Georgetown in April, but said a final decision has yet to be made on the exact date and speaking topic. The format is also still being decided, but the Lecture Fund is planning a 30 minute question and answer session as part of the event. However, the event will not be open to the public. Only invited guests and media, and those with a Georgetown University identification card will be allowed to attend. The Lecture Fund “is a non-partisan student-run organization that exists to enrich the academic experience of the Georgetown community. The Lecture Fund strives to bring speakers to Georgetown’s campus to enlighten, educate and, occasionally, entertain.”
In its defense, Georgetown issued the following statement:
As the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, Georgetown University is proud to be a university that deeply values our faith tradition and that encourages the free exchange of ideas. We respect our students’ right to express their personal views and are committed to sustaining a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable to some. Georgetown University’s long-standing Speech and Expression policy governs the university’s response to controversial speech. Recently, The Lecture Fund, a student-run organization, invited Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, to speak on campus. Ms. Richards is not being paid to speak. Student groups may invite any outside speakers and guests to campus. An appearance of any speaker or guest on campus is not an endorsement by the university. We recognize that the perspectives of some speakers run counter to the Catholic and Jesuit values that animate our university. We work very hard to ensure that these values maintain a privileged place in our community while at the same time providing a forum that does not limit speech either in the content of the view being expressed or the speaker expressing the view. Our Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger. Georgetown remains firmly committed to the sanctity and human dignity of every life at every stage. We are proud of the opportunities that we provide for our students to deepen their understanding and commitment to their Catholic faith, through our core theology requirements, our diverse campus ministry programs, our rich liturgical life, our extensive on-campus and off-campus retreats, and our faith-and-justice service immersion programs. We host an array of dialogues and programs related to faith, spirituality, theology and ethics, and have been honored to welcome leaders of the Catholic faith and other faith traditions to provide new and deeper contexts for our community to engage our Catholic tradition and identity.