This Week in Villanova History: Nov. 19, 1993

Planned Parenthood Speakers Banned from University

By Jane Papaccio

Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southeaster Pennsylvania Jacquelyn Brinkley received a phone call from Michelle Rossi, former president of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), concerning an open forum at the University. The phone call came shortly after the Villanovans for Life (VFL) hosted “Planned Parenthood Exposed” under the jurisdiction of the University.

The date for the event was set for Nov. 11. Four directors from Planned Parenthood were to come to speak about various issues related to Planned Parenthood, said Brinkley.

“I received a call from Michelle asking if we could postpone and reschedule. I said we couldn’t do it before June. The reason we were able to have all of the directors Nov. 11 was because it was the night of a board meeting and we were all excused,” Brinkley said. Nov. 11 was the only date which fit into the busy schedules of the four directors, Brinkley said.

The Director of Educational Services, Dorel Shannon, would have been present to discuss and describe the sexual education which Planned Parenthood ascribes to. She would reveal the educational services of the program, Brinkley added.

Mary Banecker, director of Patient Services, would have discussed Planned Parenthood’s efforts to aid those with sexually transmitted diseases. Planned Parenthood would also have discussed their numerous contraceptive services including the rhythm method of family planning, Brinkley said.

The advocacy around health care reform for full coverage of women’s health services would have been discussed by Sandi Vito, government relations associate for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “Women’s health services have been marginalized and politicized,” said Brinkley.

When Planned Parenthood officials received unofficial notice of the cancellation of the forum, “I was really shocked because I believe that the purpose of education is to learn how to think in order to solve problems and make moral decisions,” said Brinkley.

“I’m a Catholic and I’m fully aware of the Church’s positions,” she said. “We had no intentions of challenging the position of the church. I can respect the position of the Church. Advocates of Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Church are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of beliefs about contraception,” she added.

“I can’t understand what they are, the Catholic Church, so fearful of,” she added.

“If students do not have the opportunity to struggle with important moral and social issues,” the University has a serious intellectual deficit, Brinkley said.

“I think whenever free expression is suppressed, people’s rights are at risk,” Brinkley said. “This appears to be a suppression of free expression. It is very frightening to know that suppression of free speech can happen on a university campus.”

“In doing what they did, the University is sending the message ‘We don’t feel confident in our values.’ The Catholic Church has done a lot to assist people in poverty and address issues of social need in our country and around the world. The Catholic Church should have nothing to fear,” Brinkley said.