Santa Clara, CA (LifeNews.com) -- A Catholic law school in California is drawing condemnation from pro-life advocates for a decision to bestow an award on a pro-abortion politician. At a celebration tomorrow evening, Santa Clara School of Law will give pro-abortion former congressman and White House chief of staff Leon Panetta a top award.
The school will give Panetta the Justice and Human Rights Award at its fifth annual “Diversity Gala" despite Panetta's consistent advocacy of abortion in the nation's capital.
Panetta’s terms as a congressman were highlighted by his strongly pro-abortion voting record and he co-sponsored the so-called Freedom of Choice Act in 1990 that Barack Obama supports and would overturn every law limiting or reducing abortion nationwide.
When he became the White House Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton Panetta defended Clinton's veto of the ban on partial-birth abortions.
“A leading advocate for the culture of death is no friend of justice or human rights," Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeNews.com on Monday.
The award is no surprise as Panetta graduated from Santa Clara University with his B.S. in 1960 and J.D. in 1963 and he has served on the University’s Board of Trustees since 1988.
He teaches a political science course each year, has given lectures on ethics, delivered the keynote address for a Jesuit education conference, and acted as Master of Ceremonies for a Santa Clara fundraising event.
“With so many admirable defenders of the Culture of Life in our country to select from, it is despicable that Santa Clara University has chosen to award a Catholic who is so clearly opposed to the pro-life work of the Catholic Church—even worse, to put him on their board of trustees," Reilly said.
Reilly points out that, in a 1992 constituent letter cited by National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez, Panetta attributes his “pro-choice” views to a Santa Clara professor, Jesuit Father Austin Fagothey, who argued that “there should be no laws on abortion.”
A similar decision by Fordham Law to honor pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has been met with a large outcry from hundreds of Fordham University alumni, priests, and others, who have signed a student-sponsored petition opposing the honor scheduled for October 29.