WASHINGTON — Jesuit-related Georgetown University has given a student group the official go-ahead to set up a pro-choice discussion group on campus, while prohibiting direct advocacy of abortion services.
University affiliation gives the club the right to apply for funding and access to other university benefits, according to school officials.
Approval for the club, G.U. Choice, was announced in a Feb. 22 letter from John J. DeGioia, dean of student affairs to the Jesuit university community, which includes nearly 11,500 students at the school in Washington.
"The purpose of the organization is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas on matters related to abortion and the 'Choice' debate," said DeGioia's letter.
Administrative approval came after nearly four months of discussions between DeGioia's office and the student group, which agreed to limit its activities to discussion of abortion and the "choice" issue and forgo direct actions promoting abortion.
Because abortion is strongly opposed by Catholic moral teaching, the touchy nature of the club's concerns required the club and administration to find an "appropriate framework" for the group, DeGioia's letter said.
The agreed upon framework, which essentially distinguishes speech from action, was needed to honor Georgetown's commitment to the 200-year moral tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, while allowing viable expression to a student group raising issues in an academic environment, according to the DeGioia letter.
There are more than 100 approved clubs at Georgetown, the nation's oldest Catholic university. The school no longer gives official "recognition" to student organizations but does allow approved groups the right to apply for university funding and related benefits, such as a mailbox, space for meetings and use of university transportation.