The Georgetown University Lecture Fund announced that Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards will visit and speak on campus in April, drawing statements from the university and conservative organizations.
Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing reproductive health services and resources including contraceptives, family planning services and abortions. Richards became president in 2006 following her position as deputy chief of staff to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The Lecture Fund is a nonpartisan and student-led organization dedicated to bringing varying speakers to Georgetown. Most recently, the organization brought comedians Nick Kroll (COL ’01) and John Mulaney (COL ’04) to campus. During Richards’ visit in April, she will give remarks followed by a question-and-answer period
“The Lecture Fund strives to bring speakers to Georgetown’s campus to enlighten, educate and, occasionally, entertain,” Chair of Lecture Fund Helen Brosnan (SFS ’16) wrote in a statement to The Hoya.
Brosnan said more information regarding date, time, location and topic will be made available later in March.
Following the Lecture Fund’s announcement, the university released a statement Thursday affirming its dedication to the student body’s freedom of expression.
“We recognize that the perspectives of some speakers run counter to the Catholic and Jesuit values that animate our university,” the university wrote in a statement. “We work very hard to ensure that these values maintain a privileged place in our community while at the same time providing a forum that does not limit speech either in the content of the view being expressed or the speaker expressing the view.”
The announcement has sparked criticism from conservative groups, including Cardinal Newman Society founder and President Patrick Reilly. Founded in 1993, the Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to the promotion and defense of Catholic education, according to its mission statement. In an interview with Cybercast News Service, Reilly claimed that Georgetown’s allowance for Richards’ visit is contradictory to its image as a Catholic university.
“There’s no sense of moral truth, which is the central point of a Catholic university,” Reilly said in an interview with CNS News. “Either you accept Catholic moral teaching as true or you do not. In the case of Georgetown, they simply do not.”
Anna Teitler (COL ’18) said she was excited for Richards to speak, praising the community’s dedication to bringing speakers with a variety of views.
“The visit does seem like it will be controversial, but what makes Georgetown great is that we can have great dialogue on any type of issue,” Teitler said. “I’m personally excited for [Richards’] visit, and I hope this sparks more interest and efforts to bring in more exciting speakers.”
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