by Evan Stambaugh
Around four years prior to preventing a Catholic conservative commentator from speaking on campus, an abortionist from Planned Parenthood spoke at a “workplace inclusion” conference affiliated with the University of St. Thomas.
In April 2018, Dr. Sarah Traxler, the medical director of Planned Parenthood North Central States, which is headquartered in St. Paul, spoke at the 30th annual “Forum on Workplace Inclusion.”
According to Pro-Life Action Ministries, which exposed Traxler’s involvement, the Forum on Workplace Inclusion was previously part of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at the University of St. Thomas business school in Minneapolis.
“The Forum on Workplace Inclusion is no longer affiliated with the University of St. Thomas. At the time, the forum’s organizers were responsible for organizing sessions and speakers, and the session in question was focused on the topic of diversity in the workplace,” the Catholic university told Alpha News.
The forum moved to Augsburg University in 2019, after Traxler’s presentation in 2018.
Traxler was one of two presenters from Planned Parenthood North Central States, the other being Tonya Hampton, vice president of human resources and organizational effectiveness. The two led a session titled “Acknowledging and Addressing Our Institutional Histories.”
In a Monday press release, Pro-Life Action Ministries, an organization based in St. Paul known for its sidewalk counseling and anti-abortion activism, denounced UST’s ban on Catholic conservative Michael Knowles in light of having previously permitted Traxler and Hampton to speak.
“The description for the  workshop included ‘Acknowledging our institution’s roots can reveal problematic histories situated within systems of oppression.’ Apparently, the systematic killing of the most defenseless and vulnerable is not considered a form of oppression,” said Brian Gibson, executive director of Pro-Life Action Ministries.
Traxler has been profiled or mentioned by The Star Tribune on multiple occasions as the doctor who travels to South Dakota one week a month to help perform abortions. There is only one Planned Parenthood facility in the state, specifically in the city of Sioux Falls.
“We’ve been able to justify this because we’re willing to go to extreme lengths for our patients, because they should have access to this care,” she recently told The Star Tribune. “It’s safe, it’s legal, it should be everywhere.”
The university said its decision to prohibit Knowles from speaking on campus “was unrelated to [his] pro-life and Catholic views.”
“The denial was based on how he engages those with whom he disagrees. Staff found several examples of incendiary remarks toward people who identify as transgender and people with autism. We encouraged the student club to find another speaker,” the school said.
This appears to be a reference to Knowles’ description of activist Greta Thunberg as a “mentally ill Swedish child.” Thunberg has Asperger’s syndrome.
“We welcome speakers who tackle difficult issues — but we expect them to do so while treating community members with dignity and respect to allow for productive discourse,” the school added.
As the leaked opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito revealed last week, the high court could be moving to strike down the precedents set by Roe v. Wade, thus effectively negating abortion as a “constitutional right” and leaving each state the ability to write its own abortion laws.
In that event, midwestern blue states like Minnesota and Illinois would likely become destinations for women seeking out-of-state abortions, as red states around them like Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota could move to ban abortion.
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Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.
Photo “Dr. Sarah Traxler” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0.