Georgetown bans ‘Papaya Workshop’ abortion demonstration on campus

Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. | (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic university in the United States, has thwarted a student group’s attempt to hold a first-trimester abortion demonstration on campus.

Organized by the New York-based Reproductive Health Access Project, the “Papaya Workshop” features an abortionist who shows students an example of how vacuum aspiration abortions are performed by using a papaya as a uterus model in which the inner pulp and seeds are suctioned out by a suction machine. 

The event was originally planned to be held at Georgetown’s Intercultural Center. However, University officials intervened and compelled the campus student group hosting the RHAP abortion workshop to move it off campus.

The university said in a statement that the abortion workshop wouldn't be allowed on campus because it conflicts with the academic institution’s religious identity.

“Consistent with our Catholic and Jesuit identity, Georgetown University does not support or allow for the demonstration or training of abortion procedures in any classroom or reservable space on our campus,” Georgetown administration said, according to The College Fix.

“The student organizers of this event were notified that the Papaya Workshop is not permitted to take place in reservable campus spaces.”

The liberal student group H*yas for Choice, which was organizing the RHAP abortion workshop, denounced the university's decision as a “violation of Georgetown's Free Speech Policy and their recent timing as a deliberate action to prevent us from providing information about reproductive health to the student body.”

“We will be addressing this further with the administration, but in the meantime we will not allow them to prevent this event from happening,” they added, moving the workshop to the Advocates for Youth's headquarters in Northwest Washington, D.C., on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“The workshop will be led by a doctor and abortion provider from the Reproductive Health Access Project who will debunk common misconceptions about abortion and perform a demonstration of the procedure on a papaya,” explained the Facebook event description. "Pizza will be provided!”

In response, the conservative Catholic group TFP Student Action launched an online petition calling on Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia to cancel the event.

“I respectfully urge you cancel the ‘Papaya Workshop’ at Georgetown University, which demonstrates how Manual Vacuum Aspiration abortions are performed,” stated the petition, which got over 19,000 signatures.

“This class is a direct attack against the 5th Commandment of the Law of God and has no place on a Catholic campus.”

In 2016, Georgetown gained headlines and much criticism from pro-life activists when they invited then Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to speak on campus.

As part of the response, the pro-life student group Georgetown Right to Life invited former Planned Parenthood clinic director and anti-abortion activist Abby Johnson to speak on-campus on the same day as Richards.

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