Planned Parenthood CEO at Georgetown said to be dismissive of pro-life views

Pro-life demonstrators gather outside the campus of Georgetown University in Washington April 20. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

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."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
2 years 8 months ago
To Father Malone, Father Martin & other Editorial; staff: Over the past thirty years America has always taken a strong pro-life position in opposing abortion as well as supporting other Life issues. In view of the recent appearance on Campus of the President of Planned Parenthood & her support of abortion what is the official position of America concerning this event in what could only be called a scandal involving the use of Georgetown Univ. for the propagation of a Culture of Death message? Harry D. Carrozza,MD.,FACS President, Tucson Catholic Physicians Guild
2 years 8 months ago
To Father Malone, Father Martin & America Editorial Staff: Still waiting for America Magazine's position on Georgetown's public display of dishonor to Our Holy Mother the Catholic Church in allowing such a scandalous act to take place on their Campus. Knowing that it may be very difficult for America to oppose & condemn the Premier Jesuit the USA there should not be one moment of delay in your opinion condemning this egregious act . Tough love is greatly needed. TRUTH ALWAYS! ALWAYS TRUTH! Harry D. Carrozza,MD.,FACS. President, Tucson Catholic Physicians Guild St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia...Class of 1960 America Associate since 1982
alan macdonald
2 years 8 months ago
Why is the head of a murderous (in the eyes of the RC Church) business allowed onto a Jesuit university to discuss reproductive rights?
E.Patrick Mosman
2 years 8 months ago
"Washington, D.C. – Launched almost one year ago, the Canon Law petition of more than 2,000 Catholics represented by Academy Award winner William Peter Blatty, whose best-selling book and blockbuster film The Exorcist were situated at his alma mater Georgetown University, has received a formal response from the Holy See.".... " The “Petition” asked the Catholic Church to require that Georgetown implement Ex corde Ecclesiae, a papal constitution governing Catholic colleges, and, only as a last possible measure, the removal or suspension of top-ranked Georgetown’s right to call itself Catholic and Jesuit in any of its representations. "........ "In a letter dated April 4, Archbishop Angelo Zani, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, wrote: “Your communications to this Dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University . . . constitutes a well-founded complaint.” Zani added: “Our Congregation is taking the issue seriously, and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus in this regard.” Blatty issued this statement: “I am deeply gratified that the prayers of my two thousand fellow Petitioners have been answered. There is still more work to be done, and I promise them that we will persevere.”" Source Perhaps the day is near when there will be fewer or possibly no "Catholic" University or College in America. Marquette University should have been included in Mr Blatty's Petition. and Notre Dame, named in honor of the Blessed Virgin, who allowed the Vagina Monologues to be performed on its campus and is now honoring VP Biden who supports social practices that are opposed to Catholic teachings. The political correct inmates are in control of supposedly "Catholic" universities.
E.Patrick Mosman
2 years 8 months ago
"Richards was dismissive of mentions of a Guttmacher Institute poll that asserted that 52 percent of Americans believe that life begins at conception," Ms Richards is either science challenged or totally ignorant about the science of life according to a number of distinguished scientists and Georgetown is guilty of allowing her to infect its students with disinformation. “In 1981 (April 23-24) a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held hearings on the very question before us here: When does human life begin? Appearing to speak on behalf of the scientific community was a group of internationally known geneticists and biologists who had the same story to tell, namely, that human life begins at conception. Though offered the opportunity to provide opposing evidence -- none came forth. --Dr. Micheline M. Mathews-Roth, Harvard medical School, gave confirming testimony, supported by references from over 20 embryology and other medical textbooks -- that human life began at conception. --"Father of Modern Genetics" Dr. Jerome Lejeune told the lawmakers: "To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion ... it is plain experimental evidence." --Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic, added: "By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception." --Dr. McCarthy de Mere, medical doctor and law professor, University of Tennessee, testified: "The exact moment of the beginning of personhood and of the human body is at the moment of conception." --Dr. Alfred Bongiovanni, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, concluded, "I am no more prepared to say that these early stages represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty is not a human being." --Dr. Richard V. Jaynes: "To say that the beginning of human life cannot be determined scientifically is utterly ridiculous." --Dr. Landrum Shettles, sometimes called the "Father of In Vitro Fertilization" notes, "Conception confers life and makes that life one of a kind." And on the Supreme Court ruling _Roe v. Wade_, "To deny a truth [about when human life begins] should not be made a basis for legalizing abortion." --Professor Eugene Diamond: "...either the Justices were fed a backwoods biology or they were pretending ignorance about a scientific certainty." Another scientific event that was recently filmed regarding conception:


The latest from america

I have found that praying 15 minutes every day is an important form of self-care.
Michael R. Lovell January 16, 2019
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Washington's retired archbishop, apologized Jan. 15 for what he called a "lapse of memory," clarifying that he knew of at least one abuse allegation against former U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, but he had "forgotten" about it.
Pope Francis meets with the leadership of the Chilean bishops' conference at the Vatican on Jan. 14 to talk about the sex abuse crisis affecting the church in Chile. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
The pope wants the February summit “to be an assembly of pastors, not an academic conference—a meeting characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering.”
Gerard O’ConnellJanuary 16, 2019
This week on “Inside the Vatican,” we explore the topic of women deacons.
Colleen DulleJanuary 16, 2019