A letter to Seattle U and Fr. Steve from SU Alumni for Planned Parenthood

Dear Seattle University and Father Steve, 

We are disappointed. We are not surprised, but we are angry, livid, concerned, and frustrated. As an institution, you encouraged us to express our deepest convictions without fear and stand up to injustices, small and large, whenever we encountered them. However, we feel confused and betrayed by how Seattle University represents its values to students and how this institution cowers to a special interest group at the expense of its students’ health.  We know you can do better. We’re writing to you today as an alumni cohort to hold this administration accountable for the choices it’s made. By withholding information, you are doing harm to your students and pushing access to affordable health care out of reach for thousands on campus. You need to do better. 

You have let your entire student body, faculty, and alumni network down. To remove Planned Parenthood — an organization that provides affordable STI/STD tests and treatment, breast cancer screenings, birth control, as well as other critical services, including abortion, to millions of people every year — as a resource for students is to undermine the lives and wellbeing of the very students you aim to uplift. To do so at the specific request of a special interest group with no campus presence demonstrates to the university community to whom you are listening, and it is clear that it is not the student body. It is further disheartening to learn that, as the Spectator previously reported, when faced with an identical request, other universities around the country chose to stand on the side of safe, reliable, and medically accurate care. We are certain you had the opportunity to listen to your colleagues in this decision, and we are dismayed that you chose not to. We urge you to reconsider, and immediately schedule a forum for students to share their perspectives directly with you. 

The Jesuit education prides itself as one that creates learners centered in the art of discernment. Without a comprehensive student resource list, we lose our ability to do so when choosing the care we need. We were also taught that Seattle U holds the core values of care, justice, and diversity. It is self-evident that Planned Parenthood is a pillar in carrying out each of these values, whether it is providing gender affirming hormone care for students or providing free cancer screenings to a recent graduate without insurance who would otherwise be unable to access such care. 

When you restrict access to reproductive health care and choice of providers, you restrict the opportunity for students to live and learn at Seattle University without the burden of figuring out how they can afford, or where they can get, the care they need. To not share this valuable, resource is to shame students who have and who will use it. It stigmatizes compassionate and affordable health care at a time in many students’ lives when politics don’t matter, but health care does. It goes against the very values we have been taught at this institution – to love our neighbors, to care for all, no matter who they are or where they receive their medical care. We are a community that loves the whole person, and the whole group – including those of us that have received care at a Planned Parenthood. To take this access away diminishes our sense and value of community. 

This action also comes at a time that misinformation about, and attacks against, reproductive health care are rampant at all levels. With the recent Title X gag rule and the draconian abortion restrictions passed throughout the U.S., accessing sexual health services is harder than it’s been in decades for students. Just last week, the Supreme Court decided that they will hear a case that could lead to cruel abortion restrictions and push access to sexual health care out of reach for more than 61 million people of reproductive age. This context matters, as does your choosing this moment to align with Students for Life of America, which is directly contributing to much of this harm. 

Here’s the truth that Students for Life of America won’t share: Planned Parenthood is a health care provider. A life-saving one at that. It is an especially critical provider due to the limited sexual health resources you chose to provide on campus. And to restrict student access predicated in the belief that Planned Parenthood is only an abortion provider prohibits your students from receiving any of its life-saving services. Your decision hurts the individual lives that make up this community. 

To the current students of Seattle University, we want you to know that Planned Parenthood will be there for you when your university is not. There are five Planned Parenthoods in the Seattle area (Central District, First Hill, North Gate, University District, White Center) and a telehealth app for those anywhere in the country, which will meet you where you are, and give care based in trust and mutual respect, no matter what. If you’re as outraged by Fr. Steve’s deeply misguided action, we encourage you to add your name to this letter

In Solidarity, 

SU Alumni for Planned Parenthood—

Andrew Everett, ‘18

Hannah Pantaleo, ‘14