College’s Pick of Pro-Choice Speaker Sparks Outcry

Barnard College’s decision to select Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards as its graduation speaker has triggered a backlash from conservative students.

Katie Christensen, a Barnard senior who is president of the Columbia University College Republicans, wrote a March 10 op-ed in the student newspaper calling the choice of speaker “deeply divisive.”

“While I do not question the efforts and intentions of the administration in choosing the commencement speaker, it is truly devastating that Barnard chose a speaker who bears the banner of abortion — one of the most polarizing, impassioned subjects of morality in the history of modern civilization,” said Miss Christensen in the Columbia Spectator.

Planned Parenthood provides gynecological and other health-care services to millions of women, but it may best known as the nation’s largest provider of abortion services. An estimated one-third of all U.S. abortions are performed by Planned Parenthood.

Ms. Richards is slated to deliver the keynote address at the May 18 commencement ceremony at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. She will also receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction, “the college’s highest honor,” according to a press release on the Barnard College website.