A New York-based Catholic university said it will not exclude pro-choice internship listings from its website, after a campaign pushing for the removal of opportunities with Planned Parenthood and other "pro-abortion" groups garnered a massive following within days.
Fordham University director of communications Bob Howe said there are no plans to take down the links to the progressive websites, despite the appeal of over 20,000 from both within and beyond the Fordham community who have signed a petition titled "STOP Pro-Abortion ‘Internships' at Catholic Campus."
"Fordham University is fully committed to the teachings of the Catholic Church, including those on sexuality and the sanctity of life," said Howe, the Fordham Ram reported. "The University is also committed to academic freedom and the intellectual autonomy of its faculty in providing opportunities for students to discuss tough topics and learn from one another."
"While the University does not recommend nor support some of the organizations that sponsor the internships/employment opportunities listed by the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program, it does support the faculty's right to list the opportunities on the program's website," said Howe.
The petition was created by a pro-life group called Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) Student Action and addressed to Fordham President Rev. Joseph M. McShane. It asked, "How can a Catholic university encourage students to connect with Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups?"
These organizations, listed on the departmental page of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, include Amnesty International, Girls Write Now, UN for Women, Women's Media Center, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, and GLAAD.
None focus exclusively on reproductive issues, but all take a staunchly pro-choice position. The National Organization for Women-New York City (NOW), for example, trains escorts to accompany women entering abortion clinics and counter-protest pro-life groups.
Elias Rubio Hdez, a member of TFP Student Action, told the Washington Free Beacon in an email the group will not back down until the listing is taken down.
"You might think [it] is just a list of links, but if we do not cut it now, this will leave an opening for more things, such as: euthanasia, assisted suicide etc," added Hdez.
"We need to defend the honor of the Church," said Hdez.
Tina McCain, of feminist student group Women's Empowerment, told the Ram that the petition "is another instance of attempted control of female and/or trans and gender non-conforming bodies."
"It attempts to limit their political efficacy as well as their bodily autonomy. It is frankly absurd," said McCain.
Ryan Wolfe, executive board member of Respect for Life, supports TFP's position.
"People in the Fordham community are following the Jesuit Catholic tradition by promoting this petition to defend the inherent sanctity and right to life," he said.
TFP Student Action launched a similar initiative in April against the Catholic Loyola University's inclusion of NOW among its internship offerings. Within a day, according to TFP, the university had taken down the listing.
The group is a project of the American TFP, a right-wing, religious action group "formed to resist, in the realm of ideas, the liberal, socialist and communist trends of the times and proudly affirm the positive values of tradition, family and private property," according to the website.