A petition to ban the pro-abortion rights student group H*yas for Choice and all of its activities from Georgetown’s campus, introduced by Tradition Family Property Student Action, a national anti-abortion rights organization, launched on Nov. 8.
The petition has received over 16,000 signatures as of Nov. 27.
The organization is “pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-God” and seeks to advance Christian values on college campuses, according to the TFP Student Action website. TFP counts Georgetown students and alumni among its members, TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie said. However, HFC first appeared on TFP’s radar after a Fox News article covered HFC’s initiative to offer free emergency contraception on Georgetown’s campus, according to Ritchie.
Although HFC does not receive funding and is not officially recognized by the university, the petition calls on University President John J. DeGioia to ban the student group for its “anti-Catholic” message.
“With or without recognition, any club that promotes the killing of innocent life or lobbies for the unnatural agenda of the homosexual movement should be barred from an institution worthy of the name Catholic,” volunteer Domenick Galatolo wrote on the TFP Student Action website.
HFC members are not concerned about the potential effects of the petition as they claim that the university cannot ban the organization without infringing on student rights, according to HFC Co-Director of Communications Elianna Schiffrik (COL ’21).
“In general, we are not taking too seriously this petition from an off-campus group calling on Georgetown to ban our organization,” Schiffrik wrote. “As an unrecognized group that operates on campus entirely based on individual student rights, there are no immediate steps that Georgetown could take to ban H*yas for Choice that wouldn’t change overall student rights.”
According to Schiffrik, although HFC’s daily operations have not impacted by the petition, HFC is cautious about anti-abortion rights groups.
“We are incredibly aware, however, that the anti-choice movement has frequently used violence and intimidation to terrorize reproductive justice activists and abortion providers, so we’re staying cautious,” Schiffrik wrote. “As of now, the petition has not impacted our operations in any way.”
The university’s continued acceptance of HFC’s presence on campus betrays its Catholic heritage, according to Ritchie.
“H*yas for Choice is acting like a chapter for Planned Parenthood on campus – promoting abortion and contraception – which makes Georgetown look more like UC Berkeley,” Ritchie wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Though Pope Francis softened the church’s stance on those who received abortions, initiating a path for absolution, the Catholic Church remains firmly opposed to abortion, according to The New York Times.
HFC’s presence on campus is unacceptable even as an unrecognized group, according to Galatolo.
“The ability to undermine the right to life and promote the Culture of Death appears to be enhanced by the lack of official recognition,” Galatolo wrote.
TFP intends to send the petition to DeGioia after it receives 20,000 signatures, according to Ritchie.
HFC posted a link to the petition and a corresponding video on their Facebook page Nov. 9. The post encouraged HFC followers to donate to the group.
“Actually though, this video and petition are equal parts entertaining and horrifying. We face this kind of right-wing backlash to our efforts to advocate for reproductive and sexual healthcare on campus every day. Disagree? Donate and show your support,” the Facebook post said.
There has been an increase in donations and significant student support for HFC in response to the petition, according to Schiffrik.
“Many people have offered words of sympathy, support, and thanks for the services we provide the Georgetown community in the days since we posted about the petition on Facebook, and we also saw a spike in donations after our post,” Schiffrik wrote in an email to The Hoya.
*This article has been updated to correct the spelling of John Ritchie’s name