Small group of pro-life Catholics protest Sebelius’s lecture at GPPI


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This morning, an informal gathering of about 10-15 pro-life protesters set up shop on Georgetown’s campus. Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary, spoke to the Georgetown Public Policy Institute earlier today. According to the Washington Post, an anti-abortion protester interrupted her speech and shouted “You’re a murderer!” and was escorted out. Attendants at the event said the graduates booed the individual out of the hall.

Albert Stecklein III, one of the protesters on Georgetown’s campus today, said that the demonstration was organized informally. He urged that Georgetown’s decision was not a reflection of free speech and open dialogue. “To say that, ‘well you have to support diverse opinions,’ well anyone who supports slavery would not have the same reception,” he said.

Photos and reporting by Lucia He

15 Comments on “Small group of pro-life Catholics protest Sebelius’s lecture at GPPI

  1. Ah yes, “the pill kills.” One of my favorite far-right myths.

    You *could* accept that there’s has never been a proven instance of birth control acting as an abortifacient, or an accepted medical study showing that it’s a potential risk. And throw your support behind making the pill more accessible. Thus helping to reduce unwanted pregnancies. Thus helping to reduce abortions. Which is your group’s entire goal. And something I would think that most Americans want.

    Or, you could ignore the fact that there is no evidence that the pill kills. And continue to pressure legislators to restrict access to it. Based on an easily disprovable belief. Raising the number of women seeking abortions. That’s cool too.

    I’m pro-life, but only insofar as we make a good-faith effort to give every woman in America the kind of privileges I have — a practical, realistic sex education and reliable access to birth control. But hey, it’s never a bad time to be reminded how unrealistic my position is.

  2. All the protesters are white men? You don’t say!

  3. WTF Voice! Look, I am a Protestant conservative who has varying views on a wide range of social issues and is generally speaking not a fan of abortion. HOWEVER under no circumstances do I support the depiction images of abortions shown above near campus on graduation. The protesters shouldn’t display tragedies like that near a celebration and Vox should at least put some sort of graphic images warning so as to not spoil this happy time.

  4. Dashing Red Uniforms?
    No one expects the Spanish inquisition!

  5. @JS

    Noting their sex: relevant.
    Noting their race: irrelevant.

  6. In response to the first poster, a lot of the difficulty arises in different definitions of pregnancy. Some only count pregnancy beginning at the implantation of the fertilized egg. Under such a definition, the pill cannot be an abortifacient. But one of the ways the pill works is to make the lining of the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg, thus depriving him/her/it of the needed nutrients and biological signals to continue to grow/divide. If you think pregnancy begins at conception (a much more commonly held view) then this effect of the pill is an abortifacient. A lot of the studies that claim there’s no risk of an abortion hide behind this counterintuitive definition of pregnancy

    @JS: I’m tired of hearing this. First, it’s not like pro-choice advocates demonstrate any more openness to being persuaded when women are making the point.

    Second, and more importantly, I have a hard time thinking that anyone serious really believes that the pro-life movement is genuinely borne out of a desire or conspiracy to control women. I think most people are reasonable enough to assume both sides are acting in good faith. The pro-life movement is motivated out of genuine concern for innocent life, and these people are doing a noble thing sticking up for their beliefs, especially for those they believe deserve protection who can’t protect themselves. At the same time, the pro-choice movement is not some bloodthirsty group out to maximize murder and surrender the US to Satan. We can acknowledge that they are motivated out of a genuine concern to protect adult women, and give adults the freedom and responsibility they think they should have. What we disagree with is what level of protection unborn children/developing fetuses should have, and how those protections should be weighed against the desire for freedom and autonomy for adults. But don’t claim it’s some male conspiracy to control women.

    Jake, I really hope that by now you’ve encountered several thoughtful members of the Georgetown community who are pro-life, and are doing so out of a genuine desire to protect what they see as innocent life (whether you see that assessment as correct or not). If not, I encourage you to broaden your social horizons. And if you have, then I also hope that your Georgetown experience has taught you not to jump to conclusions and assume bad faith in those who disagree with you, and certainly not to make statements that entirely dismiss the sincere beliefs of people trying to do what they think is right with an argument you don’t really believe in.

  7. Doug, I certainly have met those individuals. Their arguments are worth response and I have engaged in discussion with them in good faith. I don’t, however, believe that the individuals above merit such a response. Among the signs present at the demonstration today (which I stopped by myself, out of curiosity) was one that featured a swastika and read “Child-Killing is Sebelius’ Final Solution.” Another man present chanted “Hitler had Himmler, Obama has Sebelius.” Later, it seems, a member of this group deemed it appropriate to interrupt Sec. Sebelius to call her a murderer. Are these individuals that I should be engaging in good faith? I say no.

    FWIW, I don’t believe the pro-life movement is completely “borne out of desire or conspiracy to control women.” That said, I do think it is relevant to note the degree to which this conversation, both at Georgetown and nationally, continues to be driven by one specific demographic of the American population. I’ll leave for debate whether or not it is coincidental that this group is also the most privileged in our society.

  8. The real tragedy of this protest was its lack of regard for civil discourse. These pro-lifers (some would call them “antis”) want to stymie policies that increase women’s access to necessary healthcare options. They don’t trust women to make their own reproductive choices—and, yes, in this case it does matter that these are all white men, just like most of the policy makers who enact legislation that disproportionately targets the reproductive rights of lower income, non-white women. But whether this is all de facto sexism or a conspiracy to keep women in the home, these men would be totally fine if they could just manage some civility.

  9. @JS

    “it is relevant to note the degree to which this conversation, both at Georgetown and nationally, continues to be driven by one specific demographic of the American population”

    Do you have data to substantiate this claim? You know, a study that shows a majority of the pro-life movement is male. Just curious. Because if you don’t…

  10. Who cares? Georgetown University stopped being a Catholic University long time ago. They should drop “Catholic” from their identification, and problem solved.

  11. So “The Pill Kills” is far-right myth! Hardly. I am not concerned with myths; I am only concerned about what is truth. So why do difficulties arise with different definitions of pregnancy? One reason; in 1965, the definition of when conception takes place was redefined by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They said that conception was no longer at “fertilization,” but at “implantation of a fertilized ovum.” This was done, not because there was any new scientific breakthrough, but to accommodate birth control promoters whose concern was only to obscure the truth about the abortifacient characteristics of the rapidly-developing birth control technology at that time. Until then, there was no question about when life begins. Interestingly, when the nine justices in the Roe v. Wade decision, all men by the way, decided that the taking of innocent human life in the womb was a woman’s constitutional right under the law, part of the reason they gave was because they declined to take a position on “when human life begins.” Scientifically, there is no question about it today, but people aren’t too concerned with science, as science often stands in the way of what serves their purposes. Even Dr. Alan Guttmacher, renowned Planned Parenthood promoter, said this in 1933, “We know that man is born of sexual union; that he starts life as an embryo within the body of the female; and that the embryo is formed from the fusion of two single cells, the ovum and the sperm. This all seems so simple and evident to us that it is difficult to picture a time when it was not part of the common knowledge.” Yes, the Pill can kill, and denying it won’t change that. In fact, all oral contraceptives can kill, and most IUD’s and progesterone-only pills do not stop ovulation at all! To say that the “Pill” reduces unwanted pregnancies is an outright lie. All the evidence suggests otherwise. More than half the women going in for abortions admit they got pregnant because the birth control failed! It gives a false sense of security and actually increases the possibility of pregnancy. God gave us Commandments. Check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read about the Sixth Commandment. Use of artificial birth control is a serious, deadly, mortal sin, as are all disordered sexual sins. And sacramental confession is necessary to restore one to God’s salvific grace. So yes, the pill can kill not only the body but the soul. Check out some time the laundry list of what hormonal abortion-inducing drugs do to a woman’s body Don’t overlook the link of the birth control pill and abortion to breast cancer, either. If you are honest about caring for women’s health you’ll do some objective homework for yourself to get to the truth. I hope you will. God Bless You.

  12. When birth control pills fail, it is usually because they were not used properly and on schedule. The pregnancy prevention rate when pills are used as prescribed is over 90%. I am a woman. I took the pill. I did not get pregnant ever. The day Mr. Stecklein can offer personal testimony regarding the efficacy of birth controll pills, I might consider his opinion. Until then, he’s just another guy trying to take control of my uterus. Stop it, Mr. Stecklein, and I won’t have an opinion about whether or not you should have a Viagra.


  13. You say: “I have a hard time thinking that anyone serious really believes that the pro-life movement is genuinely borne out of a desire or conspiracy to control women.”

    Reading the comments by Albert Stecklein certainly make me believe it. He fails to grasp that without the pill women would simply be unable to advance in society as they have, not because of a biological difference, but a social one: fathers too often leave women to take care of the children they do not want. Fathers also expect women to stay home and take care of the children, while they go out and build their careers. The United States also has enacted social policy that does not support women after they give birth and requires them to rely on a partner who is working to provide for them. This is not so in almost every other country, as paid maternity leave is provided.

    Giving a woman the ability to decide when to give birth gives her control over her body, her career, and most importantly her life. The consequences of not having access to birth control are tremendous and, of course, primarily bore by women. This is why it is framed as a women’s right issue, because if women do not have the right to birth control (which the constitution awards them) then on a broader scale they cannot participate as full members of society.

    I think it is clear from the following statement that Mr. Stecklein has very limited credibility on this issue: “To say that the “Pill” reduces unwanted pregnancies is an outright lie. All the evidence suggests otherwise. More than half the women going in for abortions admit they got pregnant because the birth control failed!” I think mature adults can all understand this is incorrect, but if not I’ve included an article about birth control by the FDA, a relatively unbiased source:

  14. @JS

    So you don’t have any data to substantiate your position?

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