One Georgetown law student is accusing the Law Center of practicing cafeteria Catholicism – picking and choosing which Church dogma to uphold.
In January, Jenny Woodson (LAW ’10) accepted a legal internship with Planned Parenthood. Because the internship was unpaid, she applied in March for a stipend from the Equal Justice Foundation, a student-organized group that receives $100,000 from Georgetown University, as well as contributions from professors and students.
Normally these donors decide which proposals are funded, but Woodson’s proposal was removed from the process at the request of the T. Abraham Aleinikoff, Dean of the Law Center, because Planned Parenthood promotes abortion as an option for family planning.
Aleinikoff could not be reached for comment as of press time. Woodson received a separate stipend from a fund of donations from law professors.
Though Woodson does not dispute Georgetown’s right to not fund work that goes against Catholic doctrine, she claims that the Law Center selectively picks and chooses which aspects of Catholic doctrine to enforce, allowing internships with pro-choice political candidates or prosecutors who defend the death penalty.
“We just found out today that the 185 applicants will all be funded,” Woodson said. “Mine was taken out.”
Woodson is not the first student to request funding for working for a pro-choice group, and said that other students had received EJF funding before.
“It slipped in under the radar for a few years,” she said.
Woodson thinks that the Law Center downplays its Jesuit ties in order to not scare away potential students.
“You’re never really told that this is a Jesuit institution,” she said. “I think they’re not open about it intentionally.”
Father Lawrence Moore, S.J, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the College of Law at Loyola in New Orleans, said that Georgetown was right to deny funding for abortion.
He emphasized that even if a Catholic university supports internships that conflict with Catholic ideology, such as in a prosecutor’s office that pursues the death penalty or a gay rights group, it is not hypocritical to reject internships with abortion groups because other internships pursue issues that are not diametrically opposed to Catholic doctrine. Abortion, on the other hand, goes completely against the religion’s ideals, he said.
“The Catholic Church teaching on abortion is very clear,” he said. “It seems to me to be confusing apples and oranges in terms of direct involvement.”
He also said that Jesuit universities, while they have significant freedom, must respect the church hierarchy, which means not provoking them.
“You would like to avoid pushing the envelope to the extreme,” he said.