By Kurt Jensen
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Members of Georgetown Right to Life were hoping for dialogue with Cecile Richards, but complained after her April 20 speech that she was dismissive of anything spoken by pro-life students.
The one-hour appearance by Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sponsored by the student-run lecture fund at Georgetown University, had created an uproar since it was announced in March. The event itself, though, ran without incident, and with heavy security, including District of Columbia police officers to supplement campus officers.
The event was closed to news media and accessible only to students with university IDs. Ryan King, a university spokesman, said a transcript might be released later in the week.
In the meantime, what Richards and students actually said in the 406-seat auditorium in the Rafik B. Hariri Building was relayed through occasional tweets from inside and the recollection of students outside just after the talk, billed as “a conversation.”
Richards received a standing ovation as she walked onstage. Introducing her, Helen Brosnan, a senior who is one of the chairs of the lecture fund, asserted both that “God is pro-choice,” and “I believe that I’m a strong Catholic.”
Student Amber Athey, a member of Georgetown Right to Life, tweeted, “According to head of GU lecture fund, hosting an abortion provider is ‘in the spirit of a Jesuit university.’”
Another member of the group, a Maryland student who would only give her first name, Caroline, said of Richards: “Her speech didn’t address abortion and I felt that was very intentional.”
One day later, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl celebrated a University Mass for Life for college students at a nearby Catholic church, encouraging them to stand up for God’s gift of human life.
The events included panel discussions on the dignity of life and the importance of outreach to women facing crisis pregnancies, and talk by Abby Johnson, the former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic who is now pro-life and speaks out about the reality of that agency’s abortion practices.
In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl warned about a powerful politically correct movement and environment “all around us. … It says to set aside such things as the value of human life and substitute the politically correct position that actually you should be free to choose to kill the unborn child. But the word of God says to us, ‘Don’t conform yourself to this age.'”