Critics decry abortion advocate's lecture at Pontifical University

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Colombian lawyer Monica Roa, a prominent supporter of legalized abortion in Latin America,  drew the ire of local Catholics for her recent guest lecture at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

It's distressing that “a university that should be Catholic is associated with these kinds of pro-abortion initiatives,” Carlos Polo, the director of the Latin American Office of the Population Research Institute, told EWTN News.

Roa, who successfully fought for the legalization of abortion in Colombia in 2006, gave a talk at the university on Feb. 21 for a post-graduate course entitled, “Jurisdiction, Human Rights and Democracy,” sponsored by the Inter-American Human Rights Court.

The visit by Roa – who sparked controversy in recent weeks for mocking the Catholic Church by posting a picture of herself dressed up as a bishop on Facebook – comes amid ongoing tensions between the school and the Archdiocese of Lima. 

In an unprecedented move, the Vatican recently gave the school until April 8 to modify its statutes in accord with Catholic university directives after the college's previous refusal to do so.

Roa is currently director of Women Worldwide Link and an adviser at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Both organizations have reportedly made efforts to legalize abortion as a “human right” worldwide.

She was introduced to students at the post-graduate school before her talk on Feb. 21 as an expert “on gender issues and women's rights. 

Betzabe Marciani, the academic coordinator of the course, told EWTN News that Roa was invited because “she has litigated women’s issues at the international level” and during her lecture she addressed issues such as “discrimination and violence against women, and situations in which there were massive violations in some countries, which have been brought before the Inter-American Court.”

However, EWTN News confirmed that during her lecture, Roa spoke on legal cases before the Inter-American Court regarding abortion, homosexual unions and artificial fertilizations.

“Monica Roa has a gender vision, she has developed a gender perspective, which is a theoretical perspective in law that some share and others do not,” Marciani said.

She defended Roa’s lecture, insisting that these “classes are not indoctrination. We don’t indoctrinate at universities. We give room to different viewpoints and people are completely free to think however they want.”

Carlos Polo, however, disagreed, claiming that the courses are aimed at “creating a wave of public opinion in support of abortion initiatives that are currently before the Inter-American Human Rights Court.”

Polo noted that the current president of the Inter-American Court is Peruvian lawyer Diego Garcia Sayan, an honoree of the PCUP known for his stance in support of abortion.

“Right now there is a case before the Inter-American Court on in vitro fertilization that could eliminate out the protection of the right to life of the unborn in Latin America in one swipe.  For this reason, I don’t think these courses are a coincidence,” Polo said.

He explained that of the main obstacles to the legalization of abortion in the countries of Latin America is article 4 of the San Jose Pact, “which grants protection to the unborn, and there are initiatives underway aimed at changing this law.”

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