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Seattle U: Removal of Planned Parenthood reference ‘should have been handled differently’

Seattle University removed Planned Parenthood from its advising center’s website, which sparked backlash among students and staff.

SEATTLE — Seattle University’s president hopes to meet with staff and students after the university’s decision to remove Planned Parenthood from its advising center’s website sparked backlash.

“The process should have been handled differently,” the university wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “President (Stephen) Sundborg recognizes that he should have consulted with others before making his decision.”

Sundborg first removed three references to Planned Parenthood from the university’s website in 2011, according to Seattle University. After learning in August that there were additional references to Planned Parenthood on the university’s advising website, Sundborg directed those references to be removed. They were taken down in September.

The decision to remove Planned Parenthood from the website was made to uphold “the university’s commitment to its Catholic purposes,” according to Seattle U. This choice was driven by Planned Parenthood’s stance on abortion, which the university said it believes is morally wrong.

Planned Parenthood has five clinics in Seattle, one of which is on First Hill near Seattle University.

Seattle University acknowledged that Planned Parenthood offers other health services in addition to abortion. However, Sundborg “sought to draw as narrow line as possible that focuses on the promotion or advertising of referrals on the website.”

Even though Planned Parenthood isn’t listed as a resource on the website, the university said that doesn’t prevent faculty or staff from advising students a different way or prevent anyone affiliated with the university from seeking health services they choose.

A group of students and leaders denounced the move in an open letter earlier this month. It has since been signed by more than 100 people affiliated with the university.

In the letter, students and leaders asked the university to rescind their decision, calling it “ill-informed, irresponsible, and dangerous.” The group argued that not listing Planned Parenthood as a resource could limit students from using it for other care, such as STD testing, cancer screenings, or preventative care.

“Ignoring the affordability of Planned Parenthood services denies the very dignity of life the Catholic Church seeks,” the letter read.