IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn
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.”
Richards was dismissive of
mentions of a Guttmacher Institute poll that asserted that 52 percent of
Americans believe that life begins at conception, and noted a series of recent
videos released by activist David Daleiden saying that his operation was “fraudulent.”
Daleiden and his partner, Sandra
Merritt, have been indicted by a Houston grand jury for using deceptive means
of accessing employees and clinics of Planned Parenthood, and in California,
Planned Parenthood also is suing him and his Center for Medical Progress for
allegedly spurring violence and causing an increase in threats at its clinics.
Joshua De Gastyne, a Georgetown
medical student, and Hunter Estes, another member of Georgetown Right to Life,
complained that questions were restricted to the final eight minutes of the
presentation, leaving Richards to take only four questions, with just two of
them from pro-life students.
Richards, they said, dismissed
both the question about the Guttmacher Institute poll and one about why most of
Planned Parenthood’s business concerns only abortions.
Richards, they said, framed “reproductive
rights” as a civil rights and social justice issue.
There were no outbursts outside
from members of Students for Life, who were occasionally joined by adults,
including a woman wearing a T-shirt that read, “The Pill Kills.”
At one point, a woman walking by
announced, “Thank God for Planned Parenthood!” A male protester
shouted back, “The body inside your body is not your body!”
Outside the university’s O
Street gate, some 20 members of the American Society for Tradition, Family, and
Property, an all-male Catholic organization based in Spring Grove,
Pennsylvania, wore red sashes, played bagpipes and held placards such as “Purity
is the Answer.”
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