Cecile Richards, ‘a true inspiration,’ to give commencement speech, receive award at Barnard College
NEW YORK CITY, March 10, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The president of Barnard College called Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards “a true inspiration” and Planned Parenthood “a trusted health care provider” in justifying her controversial decision to have Richards give the commencement address and receive the college's highest award.
Richards will address an estimated 600 graduates and 3,500 attendees on May 18 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. During the ceremony, Richards will be feted with the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the college's highest honor.
Barnard President Debora Spar and Dean Avis Hinkson told students by e-mail last Thursday that “Richards is a nationally respected leader in the field of women’s health and reproductive rights, and her unwavering dedication in the fight for access and education is a true inspiration.”
Planned Parenthood, they added, is "a trusted health care provider” that “delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women."
The organization's role as the nation's leading abortion provider was not mentioned in the college's press release.
“Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion services for women who make the deeply personal decision to end a pregnancy,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said last month.
Some at the all female college applauded the choice. Senior Mia Shapiro said, “I think that what she represents—women’s health—is something everyone at Barnard can get behind.” Shapiro's grandmother serves on the board of Planned Parenthood in the state of Florida.
However, pro-life students voiced intense displeasure.
“By choosing such a controversial figure, Barnard implies that students who take deep offense to this choice do not have valid concerns, and their beliefs do not matter,” wrote Katie Christensen, president of the College Republicans at Columbia University, with which Barnard is affiliated. “Because she represents an issue that many from Barnard’s community find morally reprehensible at the most fundamental level, her presence at Barnard’s commencement cannot be justified.”
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Christensen noted that Barnard “has been so embracing and promoting of pluralities in religious, feminist, philosophical, professional, ethnic, and educational ideologies,” so she found it “shocking to see such a blatant dismissal of moral and political perspectives.”
Mal Kline, executive director of Accuracy in Academia, told LifeSiteNews, “Why should we be surprised? It’s hard enough to find a pro-life commencement speaker at a Catholic college.” (Emphasis in original.)
President Debora Spar
Office of the President
109 Milbank Hall
New York, NY 10027