Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

SAC Approves Funding for Abortion Rights Panel

**Update:** This article was updated at 4:28 p.m. on March 4.

The Student Activities Commission voted Monday in favor of funding an abortion rights event to be held by Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justics, a coalition recently formed by United Feminists and H*yas for Choice.

The event is set to feature three male panelists in favor of abortion rights speaking on the role of men in the abortion rights movement. The motion to fund the event passed after SAC Chair Ethel Amponsah (NHS ’11) voted in favor, breaking a 4-4 tie with 2 abstentions. $175 was allocated to United Feminists, which is university-funded, for the event.

Discussion arose at the meeting among SAC commissioners and Bill McCoy, associate director for student programs, over whether approval of the funding request would conflict with the university’s Jesuit identity.

“This is a forum for dialogue. By attending the event, you’re not stripped of your Catholic identity,” SAC Commissioner Senyo Abotsi (COL ’11) said at the meeting.

SAC Commissioner Scott Stirrett (SFS ’13) said the event would be about education, not promotion of a particular stance on abortion.

“Looking at the specific event though, the main purpose is education about men’s roles in this movement, not necessarily to advocate a position,” Stirrett said.

A representative for United Feminists at the meeting said, “Our mission is to promote dialogue about [equality for women and of health services for women], not limit ourselves to one point of view.”

Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Choice was denied a request for university support in a Feb. 24 letter from Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson.

“Through its speech and expression policy, the university provides students the opportunity to participate in a dialogue on a wide range of issues,” Olson wrote. “As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, however, Georgetown cannot support organizations whose stated purpose conflicts with Catholic moral teaching.”

There has been no official university statement released in reaction to the event approved by SAC on Wednesday. In the past, the university has not sponsored groups or events on campus affiliated with the abortion rights movement, such as H*yas for Choice, United Feminists’ Plan A coalition partner.

In a recent interview, H*yas for Choice Vice President Erica Slates (SFS ’10) said Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice was working to plan events for the remainder of the semester.

Steve Ryckbosch (COL ’11), president of the Georgetown chapter of the Knights of Columbus, expressed concern at SAC’s decision to fund the panel discussion.

“I don’t think the university or anyone related to the university should fund an event like that. . The pro-choice movement is counter to what the university supports. It goes against the university because the Catholic belief [in pro-life] is so strong,” Ryckbosch said.

Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Choice, has drafted an online petition of the university’s lack of sponsorship that currently has 182 signatures.

The group plans to hold a “speak-out” in Red Square Thursday afternoon to inform members of the university community of its goals as an organization, to offer personal testimony of members and to deliver a letter to University President John G. DeGioia, according to a Facebook event created by Plan A.

According to the group’s Web site, “Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice is a coalition of students dedicated to changing the way that Georgetown University approaches issues of reproductive justice and choice.”

The group cites flaws in the university’s policy on reproductive issues such as the lack of contraception sales on campus, the unavailability of rape kits at Georgetown University Hospital, the lack of comprehensive on-campus sex education and the administration’s unwillingness to offer financial support to student groups in favor of abortion rights.

“United Feminists and [H*yas for Choice] are operating as a unified coalition in solidarity with each other,” Marion Cory (COL ’10) of United Feminists said. “Although we are coming from two distinct groups, we are one coalition of students committed to engaging in this cause together.”

– Hoya Staff Writer Lauren Weber contributed to this report.

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