College of Saint Rose (NY), May 10, commencement speaker & honorary degree recipient: New York Governor David Paterson. Paterson is an advocate for abortion rights; he received a 100 percent rating from NARAL and the 2004 “Margaret Sanger Award” from Family Planning Advocates of New York State. Paterson proposed a bill providing $1 billion in taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research, and he has endorsed cloning stem cells for research purposes.
Mount Mercy College (IA), May 17, commencement speaker: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Lt. Governor of Maryland. Townsend is a vocal advocate of abortion rights and was endorsed by NARAL and Emily’s List. In her book,Failing America’s Faithful: How Today’s Churches are Mixing God, she takes the Catholic Church to task for its strong positions on abortion.
Regis College (MA), May 18, commencement speaker & honorary degree recipient: Massachusetts State Rep. Lida Harkins (D-Needham). Harkins has supported abortion rights, including public funding for abortions, and opposed a two-parent consent law for minors seeking abortions. She supports gay marriage and was a key leader in the defeat of a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
St. Ambrose University (IA), May 11, honorary degree recipient: Margaret Tinsman, former Iowa State Senator. Tinsman advocates abortion rights and in 2006 received a $1,000 campaign contribution from Planned Parenthood’s state action committee known as “The Freedom Fund.” In 2004, Tinsman voted against the Unborn Victims Act, which would have acknowledged unborn children as victims of violent crime against pregnant women. Tinsman has opposed legislation to supply women with information on abortion alternatives, to prevent human cloning, and to require a 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion.
Saint Edward’s University (TX), May 3, commencement speaker & honorary degree recipient: Cokie Roberts, political commentator for ABC News and senior news analyst for National Public Radio. Roberts has publicly attacked Pope Benedict XVI as “really lacking in the theological virtue of charity,” “an extremely controversial choice” and “the most conservative voice of Catholicism.” In her syndicated column with husband Steve Roberts, she has espoused abortion rights and ridiculed pro-lifers as “extremists.” The Robertses characterized the federal ban on partial-birth abortion as “off the track” and “cynical games-playing” by pro-life activists. They have argued that the authority of the Catholic bishops has been significantly weakened, in part because of their teaching on homosexuality and contraception: “It’s as if they are asking to be ignored.”
Santa Clara University School of Law (CA), May 17, commencement speaker: Judge Phyllis Hamilton, United States District Judge for the Northern District of California, San Francisco. In 2004, Hamilton struck down a federal ban on partial-birth abortion as unconstitutional, claiming “the act poses an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion.” In contrast to a similar case in New York that same year, Hamilton prevented Justice Department attorneys from presenting as evidence the medical records of women who had partial-birth abortions, key to the government’s argument that the gruesome procedure is unnecessary. Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee said that “Hamilton’s deep personal hostility to the law has been evident throughout the judicial proceedings.”
University of Notre Dame Graduate School (IN), May 17, commencement speaker & honorary degree recipient: Marye Anne Fox, chancellor of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). As UCSD chancellor, Fox is an architect and leader of one of the nation’s foremost initiatives in embryonic stem cell research, the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, which will open its $115 million facility at UCSD by 2010. UCSD research is partly funded by California’s $3 billion grant program for embryonic stem cell research, independent of ethical restrictions that President George W. Bush has tied to federal funding.
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