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Mooney responds to Planned Parenthood controversy

| Monday, November 9, 2015

Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney responded to the campus controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood in an email to students Thursday.

On Oct. 29, Saint Mary’s Feminists United club hosted a display of 1,852 flags, each of which represented 10 services offered by Planned Parenthood not related to abortion or providing contraception.

Religious studies professor and chair of the department of Gender and Women’s Studies (GWS) Stacy Davis told the Observer last week that the display was in response to a campus visit from the Planned Parenthood Project Oct. 15 during the College’s Pro-Life Week. The Planned Parenthood Project focuses on abortion, one service that Planned Parenthood provides, Davis said.

Mooney said in the email that before fall break, the College student pro-life group, Belles for Life, invited the nationwide Planned Parenthood Project to campus with the aim of bringing to light facts about Planned Parenthood that are contrary to the consistent life ethic taught by the Catholic Church.

After the Planned Parenthood Project visited campus, Feminists United wanted to respond by having an event at which they would display flags representing the non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood.

“The Student Affairs Office rightly took the position that a Saint Mary’s student group cannot advocate for Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood acts contrary to Church teaching,” Mooney said.

After extended discussion between Student Affairs and concerned students, Mooney said the students were granted permission to set up a display of unmarked flags standing for the number of non-abortion services provided last year by Planned Parenthood.
“Student Affairs insisted that not only were the flags to be unmarked, but there was to be no sign indicating that the flags had anything to do with Planned Parenthood,” she said. “These constraints were placed on this student organization because recognized student groups at Saint Mary’s are not permitted to advocate for positions contrary to Catholic Church teaching.”
At the display, a small group of faculty members decided to distribute a fact sheet concerning the number of STI/STD tests and treatments, cancer screenings, contraceptive services, pregnancy tests and prenatal services provided by Planned Parenthood last year, Mooney said.
“The academic administration told the faculty members that the fact sheet could be only that, a fact sheet, and not an advocacy piece,” she said. “The distribution of the information by the faculty members was, understandably and unfortunately, seen as being part of the students’ display and the whole was perceived as support for Planned Parenthood.”
Mooney said the difference between what the student group wanted to do, but was not permitted to do, and what the group of faculty did may not be readily apparent, but there is a difference.
“The student group wanted to stage an openly pro-Planned Parenthood event; they wanted to advocate for an organization that operates, in a number of ways, in contravention of Church teaching,” she said. “The faculty distributed information about what Planned Parenthood does.”
While some may believe that Student Affairs and Academic Affairs could have been more transparent, Mooney said, both acted in good faith and consistent with the dual roles the College plays in education — which involved free access to information — and in the formation of young people in the Catholic tradition, which prohibits students group from taking advocacy position inconsistent with Church teaching.
Mooney assured students the College remains faithful to its mission and Catholic identity.
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  • jackisback3164

    That’s not a “difference” – that’s a “distinction without a difference.” Also, it’s not that the faculty members who did this should have known better; rather, they did know better, but went ahead with their advocacy of planned parenthood anyway.

    But while we’re at it, we might as well once again take issue with the so-called “facts” on the “fact sheet.” One purported fact is the provision of “cancer screenings.” This lie continues to be repeated by many, including presidential candidates. So consider this a challenge to the faculty members concerned: please provide the correct answer to the following question – how many pieces of breast cancer screening equipment does planned parenthood have in its clinics around the country?

    • João Pedro Santos
      • jackisback3164

        It would help if you actually read the weblink that you sent. It proves my point. The “screening” that they claim to provide is informational only. They claim to help women self screen their breasts and then promise to “… teach patients about breast care, connect patients to resources to help them get vital biopsies, ultrasounds, and mammograms, and follow up…”

        In other words, they don’t provide women with any more information than they could get from any clinic (not abortion related) or even from WebMD or other medical websites. They DO NOT provide mammograms. They DO NOT subsidize mammograms. They DO NOT own any equipment to provide mammograms. If you want a mammogram, you will not get one at any planned parenthood facility. You will be sent elsewhere, where there will be no discounts or “free” anything.

        Nice try, I guess.

        • Ed Knauf

          Don’t bother with Joao. His postings are uniformly devoid of logic and seldom germane.

          • jackisback3164

            Thanks Ed. Nice to know I’m not just howling at the moon. Perhaps you’re right that I shouldn’t respond to respondents on the left, but I guess that I still entertain the illusion that there is hope of persuasion through engagement, and no hope of persuasion without it. But you may be right indeed. If Joao is Catholic, then there may yet be hope.

          • Ed Knauf

            He may be culturally Catholic and no doubt hails from a very Catholic country, but despite the translation of his name (John Peter Saint), he claims no faith in Christ. Joao is in my prayers.

          • João Pedro Santos

            By the way, what you are saying is stalking, which is illegal.

          • Ed Knauf

            It’s not stalking nor is it brain surgery. Your name is Portuguese, which means you very likely are from Brazil or Portugal (I’d guess the former), both very Catholic countries. John Peter, you are in my prayers.

          • João Pedro Santos

            I wouldn’t recommend you going to those two “very Catholic” countries. Because you’d probably end up being a laughing joke.

          • João Pedro Santos

            And there’s no God to save you when you do illegal stuff.

  • Ed Knauf

    Dear Observer – it would have been easier just to reprint President Mooney’s letter, wouldn’t it? That’s essentially what you’ve done, anyway. No probing follow-up questions, no inquiry as to the faculty group’s involvement with the Feminist United group, no analysis to show that President Mooney appears to be straddling a fence, trying to appease Dr. Davis and her “feminists” while paying lip service to Catholic teaching and belief. In other words, no “journalism.”

    • João Pedro Santos

      LOL, a cis male wanting to define feminism.

      • MC

        Feminism doesn’t belong to one gender.

  • John Robin

    It appears that the text of President Mooney’s statement from 11/5 is available here: http://leaker1.blogspot.com/