Daniel C. Maguire, former priest, looked out over his audience, smiled and said what a pleasure it was to be addressing this group--after all, Maguire reasoned, most Planned Parenthood chapters planning annual luncheons don't ask themselves, "What Roman Catholic theologian should we get this year?"
But Maguire, who is both a pro-choice advocate and an outspoken critic of his church's anti-abortion dictate and a professor of theology at Milwaukee's Marquette University, a Catholic school, is himself something of a paradox.
A 'Male Hero' of Ms.
A Milwaukee magazine once named him one of the most interesting people in Milwaukee, which is perhaps a bit of understatement; Ms. magazine named him one of the "40 male heroes of the past decade." Some within his church, he acknowledged, have decided he is simply "too hot to handle."
The annual public issues luncheon of Planned Parenthood-Los Angeles was, in fact, one of the summer speaking engagements still remaining on Maguire's schedule after what he termed a series of "dis-invitations" from Catholic schools that had scheduled him during June and July.
He has been canceled, Maguire said, at Boston College, Villanova University (where, he observed, "they're better at basketball than academic freedom"), St. Scholastica College (Duluth, Minn.) and St. Martin's College (Lacey, Wash.). "In every instance," he said, "it was clearly abortion." He added, "Three of them paid me to stay away."
One institution cited adverse publicity, while another, he said, informed him that the part of the program on which he was to have appeared had been canceled. Interesting, noted Maguire--"that part of the program was the keynote (address)."
For the immediate future, Maguire said, "I expect it to be a lean market for me." He termed it "shunning, Catholic style--'you've sinned on the issue we take seriously.' "
To Maguire, it is censorship reminiscent of "the McCarthyist period" and, he said, he has asked the American Assn. of University Professors to investigate what he perceives as an assault on academic freedom that is "academically damaging" to him.
Meanwhile, at his own school, Marquette, "They are defending my academic freedom," Maguire said, adding that "they've winced a lot. . . .
"They're not saying, 'Good old Dan.' You can be sure they're not cheering. They're saying you've got to put up with this stuff" if academic freedom is to be championed.
Outside the Times Mirror Building where the meeting was held, at 1st and Spring streets, a small band of pickets held up signs protesting both abortion and Maguire's appearance. "Priest of Death," read one. Maguire did not see the pickets, but when told of the placard he said, "Maybe I can get it for my den."
Inside, Maguire had his audience riveted with his commentary on the links between racism, sexism, "rapism" and abortion.
A Sexist Expression
The question that must be asked, he said, is what brings a woman to an abortion clinic. And the answer, he said, is all of the above. Just the term "abortion on demand" is "a sexist expression," Maguire said. "It doesn't say why she can't choose it, why she must demand it."
He told the meeting that Planned Parenthood is "the organization that every year prevents more abortions than all the so-called pro-life pickets and agitators in the United States." (The agency offers both contraceptive and pregnancy termination services.)
For the record, Maguire said, "I am pro-children, pro-family, pro-life and pro-choice."
In American society, Maguire said, the vast majority of all the top ($35,000-a-year and up) jobs "belong to people who look like me." With a little smile, he added, "Not as good looking, perhaps," but white males.
He suggested that one result of this monopoly is sexual relationships based on power vs. powerlessness: "How do you feel about making love to someone inferior?" Maguire's term for it is "the hostile inseminator syndrome."
Maguire views abortion as "a complicated issue," with economic degradation resulting from racism as a major contributing factor.
Another factor, Maguire said, is a military budget that is siphoning money from social programs, a budget that he termed "the greatest abortive agent in the country."
In short, he said, "You have to do more than throw condoms at poverty." He asked, "Stop beating up on the women. . . . Listen to the women. Go after the multiple causes that produce unwanted pregnancies."
To those who would legislate against abortion--legalized within wide limits by a 1973 Supreme Court ruling--Maguire suggested, "You cannot outlaw everything you think is wrong." He noted that both St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, "pretty good Catholics," advocated legalization of prostitution--not because they thought it was right, but because they felt the alternative was far worse.
"As a social policy," Maguire said, outlawing abortion "will lead to greater evils. The abortions won't stop. They'll go underground."
'A Certain Terror'