Cardinal Newman Society

Fordham law profs demand funding for Vagina Monologues, pro-abortion groups

Cardinal Newman Society
By Cardinal Newman Society

November 20, 2012 (CNS) - A group of faculty at Fordham University Law School are urging that in light of the university president’s refusal to outright cancel an invitation to conservative author Ann Coulter, he should also be willing to fund pro-abortion groups on campus and activities like The Vagina Monologues, according to The Fordham Observer.

The faculty members are arguing that because the president of the university, Fr. Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., refused to cancel Coulter’s invitation citing academic freedom and opted to merely admonish and publicly scold the University-funded College Republicans, they believe the administration should also fund activities antithetical to Church teaching.

According to The Observer, Tracy Higgins, professor of law at Fordham Law, and Bridgette Dunlap, Human Rights Fellow at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, have written the open letter to the University’s president:

We would like you to explain how the decision was made to allow the College Republicans to use student activity funds to pay for the Coulter event while denying the use of such funds for other purposes deemed not to be in keeping with the University’s mission. For example, we understand that student groups may not use their budgets for the productions of the Vagina Monologues mounted by Fordham undergraduates each year to raise funds to combat violence against women. Along these same lines, Fordham’s anti-abortion club receives funding while pro-choice advocacy is censored. Why are these forms of student expression and association denied support while the Coulter event was not? Is pro-choice advocacy or the Vagina Monologues more inconsistent with the University’s mission than Coulter’s hate speech you rightly decry? Are they less entitled to respect in the free exchange of ideas in the Academy?

What should be shocking about this, although not surprising, is that Fordham hired Dunlap as a faculty member at all. The last time Campus Notes reported on the radically pro-abortion rights writer Dunlap, she was a law student on campus with a club called Law Students for Reproductive Justice organizing a birth control clinic just off campus. Since graduating, she publicly accused Archbishop William Lori of being a liar, when he said the issue the Church has with the HHS mandate isn’t about contraception but about “whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.”

Dunlap wrote that she was reticent about calling Abp. Lori a liar it because “there is a first-grader in plaid somewhere inside of me who hesitates to say this,” but in the end she said plainly “this is a big lie.”

Fordham has hosted The Vagina Monologues for the past two years.  The officially recognized student group Law Students for Reproductive Justice recently hosted an off-campus birth control clinic just last month and advertised it on their blog which is linked to on the university’s website.


Here’s the letter in full:

Dear President McShane:

We are members of the Fordham community writing about your response to the now cancelled Ann Coulter speaking engagement at Fordham.  Though the College Republicans withdrew the invitation to Ms. Coulter in light of the outcry from their peers, the problem remains that the University was willing to allocate over $10,000 to this event even while denying funding to other student and departmental initiatives featuring speakers or topics with which it disagrees.  We appreciate your statement distancing the University from Ms. Coulter’s hateful rhetoric and defending free speech and academic freedom.  We remain deeply troubled, however, by the University’s inconsistency regarding which events it denies funding or otherwise censors on campus.

We would like you to explain how the decision was made to allow the College Republicans to use student activity funds to pay for the Coulter event while denying the use of such funds for other purposes deemed not to be in keeping with the University’s mission.  For example, we understand that student groups may not use their budgets for the productions of the Vagina Monologues mounted by Fordham undergraduates each year to raise funds to combat violence against women.  Along these same lines, Fordham’s anti-abortion club receives funding while pro-choice advocacy is censored.  Why are these forms of student expression and association denied support while the Coulter event was not?  Is pro-choice advocacy or the Vagina Monologues more inconsistent with the University’s mission than Coulter’s hate speech you rightly decry?  Are they less entitled to respect in the free exchange of ideas in the Academy?

We would also appreciate a clear statement of the policy regarding advertising of events on campus, another form of speech recently censored by the University.  In stark contrast to your position that prohibiting Ms. Coulter from speaking would “do violence to the academy, and to the Jesuit tradition of fearless and robust engagement,” the University recently prohibited the posting of flyers for Prescribe Fordham 2, an off-campus event sponsored by a number of academic departments at which volunteer doctors provided students with uncensored sexual and reproductive health counseling and services.  The event, which was banned from campus, was aimed at addressing the problems that result from the restrictions the University places on the medical providers at its student health centers and the prohibition on condom distribution.

Student Affairs Dean Keith Eldredge asserted that allowing the Prescribe Fordham 2 flyers to be posted would violate Catholic teaching, and that anything that violates Catholic teaching violates the University’s mission.  Is this your position?  If so, how did you determine that funding Ms. Coulter’s speech would be in keeping with Fordham’s mission?  Following two incidents last year in which racist and homophobic slurs were found on Fordham campuses, Vice President Jeffrey Gray told students in an email, “there is no room at Fordham University for bigotry of any kind, directed at any individual or group.”  Ms. Coulter, who has been clear about her disdain for college campuses, is famous for her vicious rhetoric and use of slurs to describe those with whom she disagrees.
From your response to the Coulter controversy, you appear to believe that her speech is not consistent with the University’s mission.  We can only assume, therefore, that Ms. Coulter and the College Republicans were not subject to the “Catholic teaching” litmus test applied by Dean Eldredge.  If this is correct, could you please explain why other groups are subject to such a test?  What is the principle you rely upon to distinguish between the types of student and faculty speech that will be censored and which will not?

As you noted in your remarks at graduation regarding the controversy over inviting John Brennan to speak at that event, Fordham should be a place where diverse views can be debated.  However, the pattern of censoring Fordham academic departments, and women’s and LGBTQ student groups, makes the funding of Coulter’s speech especially troubling.  We are not suggesting that Coulter or the group that invited her should have been censored.  Rather, we would like a clear statement of the basis for these funding and censorship decisions in light of their manifest inconsistency.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society’s blog, Campus Notes.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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