WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Two professors from a Catholic university are publicly voicing their support for abortion and birth control.
Lawrence O. Gostin and Alexandra Phelan, both academics at the Jesuit Georgetown University, published an article last week on the university's website advocating for the World Health Organization (WHO) to allow widespread access to abortion and birth control as a means of combatting the Zika virus. The virus, largely concentrated in Latin America, is spread by mosquito bites and believed to be behind a rise in microcephaly, a birth defect that causes a deformed brain and head.
In a post titled "The WHO Must Include Access to Birth Control and Abortion in Its Temporary Recommendations for Zika-Associated Public Health Emergency of International Concern," the authors insist women at risk must be given complete access by the state via WHO recommendations to contraception and "accessible, affordable, acceptable and quality abortions."
Arguing that WHO's recommendations concerning the virus must "require countries to respect, protect, and fulfill women's health-related human rights," the authors insist it is "unfair" to "place the burden of responsibility" solely on women carrying the virus to take preventative measures on their own. By recommending countries "ensure access to contraception and safe abortions," WHO will also ensure nations "truly respect the dignity and health of women of childbearing age," according to Gostin and Phelan.
Gostin currently teaches Global Health Law and serves as director of WHO's Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Rights. Phelan is an adjunct professor of Global and Public Health Law and Ethics and was employed for a period of time with the Gender, Equity and Human Rights team at WHO in Switzerland. Both belong to Georgetown's O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.
Last week's article is not the first time Gostin has publicly strayed from the university's purported Catholic mission. In 2006 the law professor published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association arguing in support of physician-assisted suicide, asserting that the "relief of suffering by physicians at the bedside of dying patients may be a far greater affirmation of life."
Additionally, during a speech at a symposium at New York's St. John's University in 1997, Gostin stated:
Some of us may believe passionately in the sanctity of life. If a person holds this belief, he or she will choose not to expedite the natural dying process. Others, however, may believe that living in anguish is not meaningful. If a person holds this view, he or she may seek assistance in dying at some point. It should not matter which choice a person makes, provided that choice is free and informed.
Georgetown University likewise has a history of promoting or allowing courses and programs, despite pushing ideas that run contrary to Church teaching, including permitting an organization known as Law Students for Reproductive Justice to operate a chapter out of the main law school building. The "reproductive rights" activist group, in promoting contraception and abortion, seeks to "train and mobilize law students and new lawyers across the country to foster legal expertise and support for the realization of reproductive justice."
In 2013, William Peter Blatty, author of "The Exorcist" and a Georgetown alumnus, filed a complaint against the school with the Vatican, urging Rome to strip the university of its "Catholic" and "Jesuit" titles. Blatty cited multiple courses offered, including "Yoga and Meditation," "Hallucinating" and "Questioning Catholicism," that run contrary to the school's purported Catholic identity and asserted that to the best of his knowledge, "there is not a single Theology professor at Georgetown with the mandatum license needed to teach Catholic theology."
At the time of publication, Georgetown University has not publicly responded to the Gostin/Phelan article.