As corporations and governments face increasing pressure to cut ties with scandal-plagued Planned Parenthood, let’s not forget the obvious: Catholic colleges ought to do the same.
What, you ask? Catholic colleges have ties to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider and alleged purveyor of aborted human parts? How is that even possible?
It’s a good question. There’s no excuse for colleges that value their Catholic identity to be linked with the corrupt—and corrupting—organization.
But in her recent Crisis Magazine article titled “Catholic Colleges Collude with Planned Parenthood,” Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Anne Hendershott reminded readers of several instances of Catholic college ties to Planned Parenthood through student referrals, internship recommendations and even the current and past activities of faculty members.
Now we have even more evidence of such problems at Catholic colleges. Dr. Hendershott cited The Cardinal Newman Society’s 2011 report exposing more than 150 Catholic college connections to Planned Parenthood, unaware that new research was underway in response to the gruesome videos from the Center for Medical Progress. Our latest review of Catholic college websites identifies an additional 63 instances of collusion with Planned Parenthood since 2011.
Some of the Catholic colleges host, honor and even employ current and former employees of the abortion giant. Some point students toward volunteer opportunities, internships, jobs and even the “medical services” of Planned Parenthood. Still other colleges host Planned Parenthood speakers to push its wicked agenda.
There’s no question that such connections to Planned Parenthood are hypocritical for a Catholic college, especially in light of the bishops’ clear position on Planned Parenthood. Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap., chairman of the American bishops’ Pro-Life Committee, said the new revelations about Planned Parenthood are “the latest demonstration of a callousness toward women and their unborn children that is shocking to many Americans.”
Chicago archbishop Blase Cupich has argued that children and their mothers subjected to the cruel practices of Planned Parenthood “deserve more than outrage. They deserve real support, protection and solid action.”
But do Catholic college leaders agree?
Georgetown University, always the poster boy for corrupt Catholicism, seems to have no qualms about hiring current and former Planned Parenthood employees. For instance, the associate general counsel of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Zoe Segal-Reichlin, is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown.
Others at Georgetown who have been employed or worked on projects for Planned Parenthood include nurse-midwifery instructors Jennifer Demma and Debora Dole, demography professor John May, global health professor Rebecca Reingold and international health professor Sameh El-Saharty.
Last year, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles announced Robbin Crabtree as dean of its Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. Crabtree plainly states on her C.V. that she previously served on the Advisory Board and Media Relations Committee for Planned Parenthood of Putnam County, Ind. Nevertheless, LMU president David Burcham defended her work as “engaging underserved women in the community to increase their awareness of the clinic’s basic healthcare services.”
The faculty profile for Sara Ainsworth, a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University School of Law, touts the fact that she has served as senior counsel of Legal Voice for more than a decade. Legal Voice advocates abortion rights and same-sex “marriage.” Five years ago, Ainsworth co-authored a report on The Deceptive Practices of Limited Service Pregnancy Centers (i.e., pro-life crisis pregnancy centers) for Planned Parenthood and Legal Voice, and the publication is listed right on her C.V. on the university’s website. The following year, she fought for a bill in the Washington State legislature that would violate the free speech rights of pro-life clinics by requiring them publicly to announce that they do not perform or refer for abortions.
Even when not hired by a college, Planned Parenthood employees are sometimes put in front of a class. The College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y., brings in a Planned Parenthood representative to teach the “Human Sexuality” class about “safety and equipment for protection.” This past spring, the president of Regis College near Boston wrote a public letter celebrating the volunteer work of nursing students at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grenada.
The referrals to student internships and job placements with Planned Parenthood continue. For some colleges—including Boston College, Stonehill College, the University of Dayton and the University of San Diego—Planned Parenthood seems a natural fit for women’s studies, gender studies and sociology majors, which may say something about the way these subjects are taught. But alarmingly, some colleges also prod students in health-related majors into careers peddling birth control; these include DePaul University and Mount Saint Mary’s University of California.
The worst offense, however, has to be when a college advertised as Catholic refers the son or daughter of a Catholic family to Planned Parenthood for “medical services.” We found clear evidence of this at several colleges, and no doubt it occurs more frequently around the country.
One example is Mount Mercy University in Iowa. We found a local government chart of “Sexual Health Resources” on the University website (with a URL indicating sponsorship by the student life office) that links to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Cedar Rapids as a resource for “Pregnancy/STI Testing,” “HIV/AIDS Resources,” “Health Education,” “Women and Children’s Services,” “Sexual Health Advocacy” and “LGBT Resources.” There is nothing naïve about the referral; the chart itemizes services including “Birth control supplies and information; Pregnancy testing; Abortion pill; In-clinic abortion; …Emergency contraception (ECP’s/Plan B).” Planned Parenthood clinics are similarly listed in separate charts of “Counseling and Therapy Resources” (noting that clinic staff can “talk with individuals about their pregnancy options”) and “Family and Youth Resources.”
There are, of course, many dedicated students and scholars at Catholic colleges who firmly support Catholic teaching on abortion and sexuality and therefore oppose the work of Planned Parenthood. Law professor O. Carter Snead, who leads the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, expressed disgust at the recent videos: “No minimally decent society can support an organization whose business is killing and harvesting body parts for money,” he wrote, urging an end to taxpayer support for Planned Parenthood.
But whether or not Congress and President Obama ultimately defund Planned Parenthood in support of such a “minimally decent society,” certainly Catholic colleges should be capable of upholding that vision. Indeed, if their Catholic identity is anything more than a marketing ploy, they must. Otherwise they appear indifferent not only to what is happening at Planned Parenthood’s hands, but also to the Catholic Church’s moral teaching.
College leaders can (and do) claim that their entanglement with Planned Parenthood does not reflect the genuine priorities of their institutions. Or they may appeal to academic freedom as a higher priority than upholding Catholic values. They might even argue that collaboration with Planned Parenthood promotes some “greater good,” an argument that gets more tiresome with every revelation of Planned Parenthood’s practices and true purposes.
No excuse can hide the fact that Planned Parenthood’s practices blatantly contradict human decency as well as Catholic beliefs, which ought to be at the heart of Catholic education.
Several major corporations have severed ties with the beleaguered organization, including Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co. and Xerox. Congress and at least 12 states have launched investigations, including Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Meanwhile, Craig Klugman, the incoming chairman of health sciences at DePaul University in Chicago—in the diocese of Archbishop Cupich, who derided Planned Parenthood’s form of women’s healthcare—has publicly endorsed the services of the clinic where his mother once worked. “I always viewed my mom as doing important community health work for women who could not get services elsewhere because of finances, lack of education, or living in fearful relationships,” he wrote. And he has defended Planned Parenthood’s disbursement of aborted fetal parts as “a legal and (debatably) ethical enterprise” with “the intent of saving lives and improving the quality of life.”
Klugman’s blog post was then reposted by Georgetown University, with the caveat that the views on the website “do not necessarily represent” those of the Jesuit institution. But do they?
The Church’s teaching will remain confused—and the commitment of Catholic education to that teaching will be in doubt—until every Catholic college takes a no-tolerance position toward any association with Planned Parenthood. There’s no excuse not to do it, for the sake of the students and for the glory of God.