The University of Notre Dame, a Catholic school who gave President Obama an honorary degree even though he is the nation’s most pro-abortion president to ever hold the office, is continuing to honor pro-abortion lawmakers. They will give the Laetare Medal, a distinguished honor to a Catholic person, to Vice President Joe Biden, another pro-abortion politician, and to former Speaker of the House, John Boehner. And just recently, the school hosted Wendy Davis, who gained national recognition during her filibuster against a bill in Texas that would have banned abortions on babies over five months gestation.
Janelle Wanzek, the president of the Notre Dame Right to Life club will be wearing a purple graduation cord this May during the ceremony to show her solidarity with the pro-life generation. And she isn’t the only one. Students for Life of America has had an incredible response to the purple graduation cords. There will thousands of pro-life students wearing them this May across the country. But we’ll let Janelle, along with VP of Events for the NDRTL club Emily Burns, tell their story as to why many of their friends will be wearing one next month:
While we love our University and couldn’t imagine being at college anywhere else, Notre Dame as of late has made some very disappointing and discouraging decisions to us as the leaders of our school’s Right to Life group.
In early March, the University announced that this year’s prestigious Laetare Medal (given “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society”) would be awarded to Vice President Joe Biden and former Speaker of the House John Boehner. Our club, among many other groups, students, and alumni who strive to maintain Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, were confused and saddened by this seemingly “political” decision by the administration.
We then released an official club statement in our campus’ student newspaper in response to the decision to award the medal to Biden and Boehner, in which we addressed “why the decision of the University to bestow the award on Vice President Joe Biden and former Speaker of the House John Boehner does not align with our efforts as a club, the mission of the University and the Catholic faith.” We finished the letter by writing:
“As the Notre Dame Right to Life Club we are in disagreement with and saddened by the choice of the University to award Joe Biden and John Boehner with the Laetare Medal. We ask that the University live up to its Catholic identity and the purpose of this prestigious award and please reconsider its decision.”
Not long after we released this statement, we discovered that in early April, the College Democrats were bringing in pro-choice former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis to speak under the following title “Rising Up: From Single Mother to Harvard Law—How Every Woman Stands to Make a Difference.” The event was moderated by a Notre Dame theology professor, Candida Moss, and was also advertised in the weekly “Week at ND” emails sent to all students where Davis was described as “widely recognized as a passionate advocate for women’s healthcare and national issues which threaten our individual freedoms.”
Again, we felt discouraged and disappointed that the University would present the event in such a light. We, in response, are looking at possibly organizing a talk entitled “Women Deserve Better” hosted by a fertility care expert and a mother of a child with Down syndrome to counteract the notion set by Davis that women need access to abortion to succeed in life.
It is undoubtable that these recent decisions by the University to outwardly support and honor individuals who do not stand for the dignity of all life, particularly that of the unborn, do not align with the values of a Catholic institution. While we at Notre Dame Right to Life are saddened by this, we also know that there is still a strong group of students who are fighting for these values and for the sanctity of all life.
Undergraduate students have formed a petition objecting the medal, which now has over 300 signatures. We have joined with them to plan a prayer service on April 17th that we are calling a “Pro-Life Prayer Vigil for the Continuation of the Catholic Mission of the University” where we will be praying for the University, faculty, and students.
In light of these events, we also have let our senior club members know that we will be able to get purple SFLA graduation cords for anyone wanting to display their commitment to the pro-life movement. We have provided this in years past, with 15-20 seniors endowing the cords.
This year something changed. With the Laetare medal recipients being present on graduation day, more seniors have been taking it upon themselves to display their pro-life views. We currently have about 70 senior undergraduates requesting cords. All 70 are hoping to also wear pro-life pins in silent protest to the Laetare medal recipients.
Although our University does not seem to be demonstrating a strong commitment to the pro-life movement, we as the Notre Dame Right to Life club are, as well as many graduating seniors.
Learn how to get your own purple graduation cord here!