Protests Come to Campus Alongside Obama
Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 00:01
Video by Amanda Summers-Plotno.
Among the students and locals crowded around Healy Gates Tuesday morning to catch a glimpse of President Obama, approximately seven pro-life protesters rallied in opposition to the pro-choice president and his visit to a Catholic university, while around 10 Georgetown students demonstrated against the pro-life protesters.
Obama's reversal of two policies enacted by former President George W. Bush - one that prohibited federal funding for clinics that promote abortions and another that restricted embryonic stem-cell research - have angered some Catholics and drawn criticism from the Vatican. Thirty U.S. bishops and 260,000 people, according to The Irish Times, have signed a petition demanding the University of Notre Dame to withdraw its invitation to Obama to speak at its commencement this May.
Several protesters on Tuesday morning demonstrated against Georgetown's invitation to the president by displaying signs such as "It's murder, Georgetown" and "If you want a Catholic education don't come to Georgetown." They held several large photographs of graphic abortions, and one protestor even dressed in a suit, wore a mask of Obama's face and painted his hands with fake stage blood. The protesters stood inside and outside of Georgetown's front gates, shouting slogans with a megaphone.
A counter-protest led by 10 students, originally organized through Facebook by Mara Hollander (COL '12), opposed the pro-life protesters.
"People need to know there's more than one element to this discussion," she said. "We were out there to provide a balance . to create an awareness that there are people at Georgetown who support choice."
The cluster of students stood inside the gates and held signs declaring "I'm a Hoya for Choice" and chanting "We support Obama, we support choice."
Randall Terry, a prominent pro-life activist, founder of Operation Rescue and leader of the Georgetown pro-life protest, described Georgetown's invitation to the president as ". an affront to faithful Catholics and to the innocents we are charged to defend" as well as "[a deliberate poke] in the eye of the bishops and faithful Catholics who have condemned President Obama's appearance at [the University of Notre Dame]," according to a press release from Christian Newswire.
GU Right to Life president Caitlin Devine (COL '10) said the group was not contacted by any of the outside groups that held protests Tuesday and was therefore not aware of their plans.
Devine added that Georgetown's invitation differed from Notre Dame's, as Obama spoke specifically on the economic crisis and did not receive any honorary degree or speak at a commencement ceremony. But she emphasized that abortion policies can not be swept under the rug.
"Pressing life issues exist in the midst of this serious economic crisis," Devine said.
University spokesperson Julie Bataille said that Georgetown is committed to supporting free speech and respecting all views.
"Georgetown does not endorse the views or statements of individual speakers but supports the right for a range of perspectives to be expressed," she said.