New Mexico Pro-Life Student Prevented From Holding Silent Abortion Protest
by Steven Ertelt
April 24, 2008
Albuquerque, NM (LifeNews.com) — Officials at a middle school in New Mexico have prevented a pro-life student from organizing a silent abortion protest next week. James Monroe Middle School student Jannelle Bushnell hoped to get friends to wear red tape on their mouths to be the silent voice for babies who die in abortions.
Bushnell, who was adopted, said she came up with the idea for the protest after learning her own mother was pregnant at 14 and could have had an abortion.
"And everyone, her counselors, her teachers were telling her abortion was the right thing. But my parents said, ‘No, I will adopt your baby if you go full term,’" Bushnell told KOAT-TV.
But the news station reported school officials told Bushnell school rules prevented the protest.
They said students are not allowed to distribute fliers, can’t wear armbands, or disrupt the educational process.
In response to the negative reaction from authorities, Bushnell told the station she will simply ask her pro-life friends to stay silent as much as possible and to tell classmates later why they chose not to speak.
Other pro-life students have run into troubles from school officials.
Last October, on the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, the official day for student protests like Bushnell’s, students at Concord Middle School in Jackson, Michigan found out from school officials that they couldn’t take part in the national abortion protest because they wanted to avoid disrupting classes.
"It’s a public school system,” eight-grade student Lauren Rosenau told the Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper. "We should be able to express ourselves and who we are.”
Concord Superintendent Robert "Jay” Bada told the newspaper that outside political groups are not allowed on campus, even though only Concord students would be participating.
"If we allow one, we have to allow all of them,” he said.
But, surprisingly, Michael J. Steinberg, the legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, says the students were right.
"The Supreme Court made it clear that school officials cannot censor student speech because it’s controversial,” Steinberg said. "School is a place for the exchange of ideas.”
He said that the school can’t stop the students from exercising their free speech rights unless it feels that violence could result from it.
"Certainly outside the classroom, students have a clear constitutional right to express themselves through symbolism,” Steinberg said.