College pulls funding for one-sided ‘reproductive justice’ forum after pressure from pro-life activists

A state community college in the metropolitan Sacramento region has pulled its support of a campus “reproductive justice” forum scheduled this afternoon because all the panelists represent a pro-abortion point of view and the event’s sponsors refused to include anyone with a pro-life perspective.

The forum, part of an annual event at Sierra College called the “Cesar E. Chavez Higher Education Speaker Series,” is scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. today at the college’s Dietrich Theatre in Rocklin, about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada foothills. This year’s topic is “Reproductive Justice: Does a Woman Have a Right to Choose?”

According to the college’s website, the forum will feature a panel discussion by “distinguished guests.” But all of the five panelists identified by the event’s sponsors are advocates for abortion, including a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and the executive director of a Northern California chain of “feminist” abortion clinics.

“The event organizers were given the opportunity to rebalance the panel to include all perspectives, but they unfortunately refused to do so,” said Sierra College Board of Trustees president Aaron Klein in a prepared statement issued yesterday. “Their intentional and repeated violation of the college’s core values is disappointing and unfortunate.”

“As a result of their decision, this event has now become a private event, rather than an official Sierra College event,” Klein continued. “All sources of taxpayer funding have been withdrawn from the event. The President’s Office has decided not to sponsor the event’s lunch as previously planned, and President Duncan has decided to withdraw from appearing at the event.”

“The event will go on as a private event, without any taxpayer funding, sponsored by one of our college clubs,” said Klein. “We support the right of every group on campus to hold private events as they see fit, and given the unbalanced nature of the panelists, this is the right context for the event.”

Veteran Sacramento-area pro-lifer Wynette Sills and three other pro-lifers complained about the makeup of the panel to the trustees of Sierra College at a meeting in Rocklin on March 13. Sills said that, while the pro-lifers received a generally sympathetic hearing, the board could take no formal action because the issue was not on the day’s official agenda.

“The concerns expressed by the public were not about the event itself, but rather the makeup of the panel,” said Klein. “Both the event moderator, and every single panelist chosen for the event, were tightly affiliated and came from the abortion perspective. There had been no attempt by event organizers to balance the panel with perspectives on the two other choices that women have for an unplanned pregnancy: adoption or parenting.”

“Sierra College is an institution of learning,” said Klein. “We respect free speech, embrace academic freedom, and value discussions of tough issues. And we embrace a set of core values that are supposed to guide how we do that. It was clear that the makeup of the panel violated these core values, particularly ‘providing and demonstrating the value of an inclusive community.’”

The panelists scheduled to speak at the college this afternoon, said Sills, will be offering students nothing more than a “pro-abortion infomercial.”

“Such an unbalanced event fails to reflect the diversity of the Sierra College campus,” wrote Steve Macias, West Coast Regional Coordinator of Students for Life of America, on the group’s website. “The college is using student resources to alienate other campus groups like the Sierra College Students for Life and Sierra Inter-varsity club. Using the campus’s limited public resources to promote the abortion industry’s agenda is intolerable in itself, but to go as far as to also dishonor the legacy of César Chávez is too far.”

“As a Mexican-American from a Christian, migrant farm working family, I fear that such an event fails to appropriately honor Chavez’s legacy,” said Macias. “I have myself, along with many members of the community, brought this issue to the Sierra College Board of Trustees, College President, and the event organizer Mr. Reyes Ortega to ask for a place at the table to express both sides of the issue. While the School Board and College President seem eager to add balance, Mr. Reyes Ortega has flat out refused. This campus faculty member has dug his heels in and continues to promote an exclusively pro-abortion event.”

Among the five speakers scheduled at this afternoon’s forum are former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, who currently serves as vice president for public affairs for San Jose-based Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, and Shauna Heckert, executive director of California Women’s Health Specialists, which runs four Northern California abortion clinics.

While serving in the state legislature, Figueroa consistently received 100% pro-abortion ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte operates 18 “health centers” in California and one in Nevada. According to its 2011 annual report, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte performed 17,568 abortions that year alone.

California Women’s Health Specialists began in 1971 as the Feminist Women’s Health Center, where, according to the organization’s website, “a group of women sat in a circle performing pelvic exams on themselves. They were curious, determined and fiercely feminist.”

Today California Women’s Health Specialists maintains the caption “The Feminist Women Health Center’s of California” beneath its name, and traces its founding to “a group of speculum-passing hippies.” It performs about 6000 abortions a year at its various locations.

The moderator for today’s forum is Sierra College Sociology and Women’s Studies professor Megan Seely, who, according to Sills, is a member of the board of directors of Women’s Health Specialists.

Regarding the decision by Sierra College to revoke its sponsorship and funding of the event, board of trustees president Klein concluded, “It’s my hope that we’ve learned an important lesson from this. True diversity requires a balanced set of perspectives. As we strive to uphold our core values in the future, we need to remember that.”


Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 12:54 AM By charlio
California Women’s Health Specialists (“Wright St. abortuary) is known locally on the street as “Lesbian Witches”, (a recent historical application of Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s story about a witch who was fasting for abortion). A 1981 New West Magazine article on Feminist Women’s Health Center improperly billing Medi-Cal, noted that they had “mandatory gun training and monthly ‘menstrual extraction’ rituals”.

Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 6:37 AM By MacDonald
Pro-abortion. Ick. If one of these women got pregnant and was attacked and lost her baby, the attacker would be prosecuted for murdering her unborn child; yet this same woman believes it’s HER right to decide whether this unborn child has the right to live or not? Reminds me of those cultures where men believe it’s their right to kill female relatives who “shame” the family. As Doctor Seuss put it so succinctly: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 6:57 AM By Prof Helen
Freedom of speech and respecting everyone’s POV is the backbone of Academia. In the market Place of ideas we can fairly compete. Good for the students.

Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:40 AM By OneoftheSheep
“No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.” Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II, 62. What we have at Sierra College is the coopting of the public forum to present one viewpoint which is contrary to human life. In an authentic discourse, this would be challenged. Caesar Chavez would certainly, as a strong Catholic and an advocate for the dignity of all human beings, never bless such an attack on the sanctity of human life. I denounce such overt attacks on humanity.

Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 10:04 AM By Tracy
I’m not sure if I understand this completely, but it sounds as if this event was going to be funded by the college, which of course operates mostly with tax payer money. Now that this is a privately funded event, I hope the pro-life students can sponsor a GAP(genocide awareness project) event on their campus to educate their fellow students of the true realities of “reproductive choice”

Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 11:13 AM By Maryanne Leonard
Yes, there is an important legalistic difference between your and my (taxpayers’) funding such a one-perspective public event and its being privately funded, but this kill-your-babies convocation is still being held on school grounds, and no doubt posters are being placed on school grounds as well promoting this pro-abortion event. Why don’t we have people ready to invade this presentation and demand to be heard? It would take guts, but imagine the guts it took in the first century to stand with Jesus. If we don’t do something like this, we may as well resign ourselves to the wanton murders of millions of Americans God placed in the wombs of their mothers. Since it’s so obvious we don’t agree with slaying mothers, how is it we can stand by and let people slay even a single baby? I hope anyone near this region of the state will go and demonstrate if not speak against this travesty and yes, misuse of taxpayers funds. We built that school, not to promote murder, but thought, among our citizens.