ACLU Actually Gets It Right in Defending Pro-Life Penn Student’s Abortion T-Shirt

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

ACLU Actually Gets It Right in Defending Pro-Life Penn Student’s Abortion T-Shirt

by Maria Vitale Editorial Columnist
October 7, 2009 Note: Maria Vitale is an opinion columnist for She is the Public Relations Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and Vitale has written and reported for various broadcast and print media outlets, including National Public Radio, CBS Radio, and AP Radio.

For once, the American Civil Liberties Union is right on a pro-life issue.

A man in Pennsylvania, William Boyer, has filed suit against central Pennsylvania’s West Shore School District, saying that school officials unfairly censored his son E.B. when they forced him to turn his pro-life t-shirt inside out.

Commenting on the situation, the ACLU’s Valerie Burch told the Patriot-News newspaper that the shirt was a form of political speech and it should have been protected.

The Patriot-News quotes Burch as saying, “Student-speech law has developed a lot…but one thing that is still plain and clear as day is that political speech like the t-shirt…is highly protected, even within schools. I don’t see how they can prohibit this.”

According to news reports, the Crossroads Middle School student wore a t-shirt declaring that “Abortion is not Healthcare” to protest pro-abortion President Barack Obama’s speech to students around the country. One of his teachers dispatched him to the principal’s office, where he was forced to cover up the politically incorrect message by turning the shirt inside out.

The lawsuit states that the school district’s policies on student expression and dress are unconstitutional, and that the effort to censor the shirt violates the 1st and 14th amendments to the Constitution.

Schools certainly have a right to maintain order in the classroom by imposing dress codes. The last thing that a teacher needs is having to deal with a student who raises a ruckus because of the way he or she is dressed.

But on the other hand, students should not give up their Constitutional rights when they walk through the classroom door. Pro-abortion teachers can easily intimidate and harass pro-life students, claiming that they are causing a disruption when, in fact, they are simply offering a silent protest to the pro-abortion status quo.

God bless William Boyer and his son for standing up for what’s right, not only when it comes to abortion, but also freedom of speech. The more people talk about abortion—what it does to a baby, and how it affects a mother—the more likely it is that the ranks of those who oppose abortion will grow.

It’s also naïve to think that today’s students, who have lost brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends to abortion, won’t have an opinion on it. They naturally will express that opinion through the means they have at their disposal—and a t-shirt can be a dramatic way to make a point.

Abortion is an obscene act—but student opposition to it should not be treated as an obscenity in the classroom. Today’s young people deserve to be heard on the most important civil rights issue of our time. If they want to wear their sentiments on their sleeves, so be it. They, after all, are paying the price for our nation’s ill-conceived abortion policy.

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