Is Planned Parenthood in the ‘Jesuit Tradition’?


Readers of InsideCatholic will be well aware of the repeated scandals in Catholic higher education, particularly at many of the large Jesuit universities.

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But even so, what leads a major university in the “Jesuit educational tradition” to crawl into bed with Planned Parenthood, which commits nearly one-third of the abortions in the United States?

Yesterday the leaders of several pro-life and Catholic organizations sent a letter to the president of Seattle University, Jesuit Rev. Stephen Sundborg, urging him “to sever any ties to pro-abortion organizations and to institute policies that would prevent further cooperation with such organizations, including referrals.”

The letter went on, “We also urge you to institute policies that would prevent employment or any sort of honor for an individual who formerly worked or volunteered for Planned Parenthood or another pro-abortion organization and has not publicly disavowed such prior work.”

Signers include leaders of the Cardinal Newman Society, Students for Life of America, Priests for Life, Human Life International, Catholics United for the Faith, Concerned Women for America, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Human Life Alliance, and others.

And what are Seattle University’s crimes? According to the letter, the university:

  • refers students to Planned Parenthood for “sexual health” services,
  • allows and promotes student internships with Planned Parenthood,
  • has hired employees with past experience with Planned Parenthood and unabashedly highlights that experience on the university’s website, and
  • honors students for their past work with Planned Parenthood.

Moreover, the website of the Women Studies Department at Seattle encourages students to “get involved” with pro-abortion organizations such as the Feminist Majority Foundation and the National Organization for Women.

Most likely, Seattle University’s connections to abortion and contraceptive peddlers have been established by particular faculty and staff members without formal approval from the university administration, even though the evidence is clearly presented on the university’s website. But the ties indicate ambivalence toward outfits that should be anathema to anyone with Catholic sensibilities — anyone with even a basic sense of human dignity.

The Spectator at Seattle University recently reported that an instructor in the midwife program reacted with concern to the efforts in Congress to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, arguing that the cuts “would reduce access to healthcare for low income and uninsured women.”

And Jesuit Rev. Peter Ely, Seattle University’s vice-president of Mission and Ministry, told the newspaper that Catholics would not be in conflict with the Church “if they sought health screenings or prenatal care at Planned Parenthood or other family services.”

According to the Spectator article:

Ely said some people feel the Catholic Church is against family planning, when in reality it is just positioned against abortion and unnatural methods of birth control. “Couples have the right and responsibility to plan their families,” Ely said. “They have to decide how many children are reasonable for them.”

Educators in the “Jesuit tradition,” of course, have to decide how many ties to abortionists are reasonable for them. It would seem to this Catholic that one is too many.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.


For more information on the Cardinal Newman Society, please visit their website.

  • Patrick J. Reilly

    Patrick J. Reilly is president of The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education.

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