This past Monday, the conservative Cardinal Newman Society announced that two dozen Catholic colleges had removed mention of Planned Parenthood from their websites. While some colleges said that they had indeed deleted the material (including listings for internships and mentions of Planned Parenthood by students and faculty), five of the colleges (and some of the most well-known ones) said that they had not in fact removed mention of the reproductive-rights organization. As the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, many of the web pages that the Newman Society pointed out for “touting” Planned Parenthood still indeed mention the organization.
Describing the Newman Society as having “long criticized Catholic colleges for promoting practices that it believes are inconsistent with Catholic doctrine,” the Chronicle of Higher Education says that, during last month’s debates about federal support for Planned Parenthood, the Newman Society released a report, in which Catholic colleges and universities were criticized for mentioning Planned Parenthood. A detailed list can be found here.
24 colleges have since removed mention of Planned Parenthood, but some — including some “more-prominent institutions on the list,” such as Boston College — said that they had not deleted such mention. Said Jack Dunn, a spokesman at Boston College:
The Cardinal Newman Society has no academic standing and has been admonished by Catholic bishops for using scare tactics that are designed to induce elderly donors into supporting their misguided efforts. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Boston College has never been influenced by them.
Officials at Gonzaga University, the University of San Diego, the University of San Francisco and Dominican University of California all countered the Newman Society’s report and said that references to Planned Parenthood remained on their webpages.
It’s disappointing, if not galling, that an outside organization can think it has the authority to control what colleges say on their web pages. Students, not to mention the general public, can certainly have their opinions about groups like Planned Parenthood and reproductive issues, but the Newman Society is simply trying to control the flow of information. Students simply have the right to make their own decisions about learning about a group like Planned Parenthood. By seeking to eliminate any mention of the group, the Newman Society reveals how intimidated, if not frightened, it is by the notion of women being able to make their own choices about their own bodies.
A quote in the Chronicle of Higher Education from the president of the Newman Society, Patrick J. Reilly, about the discrepancies, suggests that his organization might conduct future web-research with a bit more care:
“I have no explanation for that,” he said.
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