Academic Freedom Run Amok
The pro-choice student organization Irish 4 Reproductive Health (“Irish 4”) is hosting a talk this evening on campus by the noted pro-abortion advocate Katherine Watson.
The event has no Notre Dame sponsor. Irish 4 is an unrecognized student group that is suing Notre Dame to require it to provide free abortifacients to students and employees through its health programs. Because it is not recognized, it cannot act as a sponsor; and, as The Irish Rover has reported, the Anthropology Department withdrew its sponsorship upon being told it could not in effect take the place of an unofficial organization.
Thereupon, the department chair, Dr. Augustin Fuentes, reserved the space for Irish 4 and its event.
We asked Paul Browne, the Vice President of Communications, “whether it comports with University policy for Dr. Fuentes to book space in a University facility for a pro-abortion presentation that has no Notre Dame sponsor.”
And we sent a copy to Father Jenkins “so that he will be aware of this event and have the opportunity either to cancel it or permit it to proceed.”
We have received no response. Evidently the event does accord with university policy as construed by Father Jenkins.
The pro-abortion character of the event is predictable. Dr. Watson is a member of Planned Parenthood’s National Medical Council and on the board of the National Abortion Federation, a group of independent abortion clinics.
As to her subject, her book “Scarlet A: The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Ordinary Abortion,” Dr. Charles K. Bellinger of Texas Christian University had this to say in his Public Discourse review:
She summarizes the standard arguments that are made for and against personhood beginning at conception, obviously siding with the latter…. Watson’s overall argument boils down to two key ideas: individual autonomy and respect for pluralism. The individual woman should have the power to determine what moral status the embryo has — for her. Watson is okay with pro-life advocates trying to persuade others regarding the moral wrongness of abortion, but she does not want them to try to “impose” their views on others through the force of law; that is a refusal to respect pluralism.
So this is the reach of academic freedom in the Jenkins administration:
A single faculty member may reserve a university facility for a talk by an adversary of the Church on abortion that is arranged by an unrecognized group of pro-abortion students who are suing the university to require it to furnish free abortifacients to students and employees.
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