SPOKANE, Wash. – The president of Whitworth University will cut all formal ties with Planned Parenthood starting in the fall of 2017.
President Beck Taylor sent out a letter to the Whitworth community stating that the university will no longer offer credit-bearing service-learning placements or internships with the organization.
“Given the prominent place that Planned Parenthood holds in our nation’s discourse on issues of freedom of choice and sanctity of life, I have decided that Whitworth’s relationship with the organization, even as limited and tangential as it currently is and has been, sends a confusing signal to many of our constituencies. My hope is that Whitworth will always support both women and gender-related issues and affirm God’s love for all life,” Taylor said in the letter.
Taylor said the decision should not be seen as a lack of support for women or the school quashing academic freedom.
The move comes six months after the student newspaper, The Whitworthian, published an opinion piece that urged the school to cut ties with the organization.
Planned Parenthood leaders responded to the president's decision Thursday saying, "“Students who volunteer with us have a tremendous impact on local reproductive health care, education, rights, and justice. We greatly appreciate the many students from local universities who generously give their time and talents to support our patients and to create better health and freedom – particularly for women – in our community. We were both surprised and disappointed to hear that Whitworth students who volunteer with us will no longer have their contributions acknowledged by the school. However, we are confident that this generation will create a world where it’s no longer acceptable to treat a person’s reproductive health and decisions as a political bargaining chip. Instead, reproductive health care will be regarded as what it actually is: A critical, basic human right that is central to every person’s ability to be healthy, live a fulfilling life, and build a bright future.”
Planned Parenthood leaders said the university has also decided to prevent the Planned Parenthood Generation Action campus group from receiving club status even though they allow an anti-abortion group to have club status and benefits.
In Taylor's statement he said he hoped having the both groups on campus will contribute to the "important campus conversations we are having about these issues."