Providence College, a Catholic Dominican institution in Rhode Island, is scheduled to host a political panel discussion Thursday night featuring a former Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island medical director who is “Rhode Island’s most notorious abortionist” according to a local pro-life leader.
The College’s Political Science Department is hosting the event on campus titled “The History of Latino Political Empowerment in Rhode Island.” Dr. Pablo Rodriguez was invited to speak as co-founder of the Rhode Island Political Action Committee (RIPLAC), an organization created “in the late 1990s to improve Latino lives through the electoral process.” The event is open to the public and “all members of the Providence College community as well as local high school and college students are invited to attend.”
Rodriguez is the current chair of the Women and Infants Health Care Alliance and president and CEO at Women’s Care. The Women and Infants website states that their clinic offers the abortion pill and surgical abortions, and notes that second semester abortions are available if “tests reveal the fetus has abnormalities,” among other reasons.
In addition to committing numerous abortions, Rodriguez is also an outspoken public supporter of abortion, including specifically for “Latina reproductive health.”
According to his bio, Rodriguez “is a well-known community leader and an active participant in civic and charitable organizations, both locally and nationally.” Rodriguez was also “actively involved in the Health Care Reform Commission in charge of drafting the Rite Care legislation in Rhode Island and has been involved in numerous Health Department initiatives such as Chairman of the Minority Health Advisory Committee and the Preventive Health Advisory Commission.”
“He’s got a lot of political influence, and uses that political influence to promote access to abortion,” Barth Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, told the Newman Society. Bracy called Rodriguez “Rhode Island’s most notorious abortionist,” and his organization called on supporters to contact Providence College President Father Brian J. Shanley, O.P., to express concerns about Rodriguez speaking on campus.
“We suspect that it is apparent to most folks, even those without advanced degrees, that a Catholic college should not invite an unrepentant abortionist to hobnob and speak publicly on campus,” the pro-life group stated in their action alert. “We can only conclude that the political science department at Providence College has gone completely off the rails and remains completely unrestrained by the Providence College administration and by the Order of Preachers.”
Bracy pointed out that Rodriguez penned an article shortly before the 2000 election about visiting an unnamed country along the Andes Mountains in South America to offer abortions to women and train others to commit abortion. These abortions were likely illegal, noted Bracy, considering the legal restrictions on abortion in all of the countries along the Andes.
“I never thought that I would be performing an abortion in a room with a picture of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, but there I was, in the middle of the Andes,” wrote Rodriguez, who described offering abortions as “God’s work.”
“Next to the crude poster of contraceptive methods with condoms and IUDs taped to it were multiple religious icons and passages from the Bible,” he continued. “From what I could tell, these women were as religious as those who protest in front of my clinic in Providence every Thursday and Saturday. Every woman who came in was embraced in her decision to accept or not the promise of a future child.”
The Newman Society contacted officials at Providence College to see if Fr. Shanley had any intention of rescinding the invitation to have Rodriguez speak considering he is a known abortionist and public advocate against the moral teachings of the Church. The Society further inquired if Fr. Shanley believed hosting Rodriguez conflicted in any way with the Catholic mission of Providence College, and if any alternate speakers for tonight’s event were considered whose work and public advocacy do not oppose the moral teachings of the Church. No responses were received by time of publication.
Similar questions were posed to Dr. Tony Affigne, the professor at Providence who facilitated the event, and Dr.William Hudson, the political science department chair, but no responses were received.
“It was just three years ago this month that we helped to create quite a protest about a major public address that they arranged for abortion-extremist U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse,” said Bracy. “A lot of complaints went to Fr. Shanley, who defended the decision to allow him to speak.”
As the Newman Society reported in February 2013, Fr. Shanley sent a letter to the campus community explaining why he would not rescind the invitation to Whitehouse. In the letter, Fr. Shanley responded to the U.S. bishops’ 2004 statement Catholics in Political Life, which noted, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
“Does this invitation violate the U.S. bishops’ request that Catholic institutions neither honor nor provide a platform for politicians holding views at odds with the Church? We are not giving Sen. Whitehouse an award. Nor are we giving him a platform to promote views at odds with the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church,” said Fr. Shanley. “Therefore I do not consider this inconsistent with the bishops’ wishes and I see no reason to seek to disinvite him from speaking.”
Bracy told the Newman Society, “There are some great, great professors at Providence College and some fantastic Dominicans, but it appears to me that Fr. Shanley has lost sight of what it means to have a Catholic identity, and is leading the college in a very, very dangerous direction.”
“I do hope and pray that Fr. Shanley will rescind this invitation even on short notice,” he added.
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.