Pro-Life Students Face Increasing Harassment on Campus

National   |   Brad Mattes   |   May 5, 2013   |   7:21PM   |   Washington, DC

Students—from sixth grade to college-age—have been facing opposition on campus for sharing their pro-life beliefs. Evidence shows the support of free speech only applies to those who favor abortion. Here are some of the most recent cases.

In March, the student government at Johns Hopkins University denied recognition to the student pro-life group, Voices for Life (VFL). It was denied on the basis that their involvement in sidewalk counseling was deemed “harassment.” Further, a link on the VFL website was considered too graphic because it posts photos of aborted babies. The students of VFL refused to be silenced and appealed the decision. In spite of enduring personal character attacks and discriminatory opposition, the ruling was overturned in April by the Student Government Judiciary. The university administration agreed that the group was in fact protected under freedom of speech.

Another case took place at the State University of New York – Buffalo campus. Students were presenting a pro-life photograph display on campus when they were approached by a pro-abortion professor, Laura Curry. Curry erupted into a profanity-laced tirade calling the images profane. When approached by officers who requested that she refrain from using profanity, she acted out even further yelling, “Where does it say I can’t use the f-word in public?” In a Christian News Network article, it’s reported that she claimed the First Amendment protected her right to yell curse words in front of everyone in the vicinity. It’s ironic she considered her foul speech protected, but the peaceful pro-life display was not. “I can swear in public because [this display] is profane,” she continued, “That image is swearing to me.” As she continued to openly defy campus police, this campus professor was eventually placed under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct.

Another example is Students for Life, a pro-life group that does the Planned Parenthood Project Tour. It consists of visiting various college campuses with a display of 915 pink crosses, representing the lives extinguished every day by Planned Parenthood. They experienced the most antagonistic opposition at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. First, a box of postcards was stolen. Later pro-abortion advocates coincidentally tweeted about tearing up the group’s materials. A photo of someone making an obscene gesture in front of the display also made the rounds on Twitter. A post on Facebook portrayed the ugly intolerance by stating, “Anyone know if the anti-Planned Parenthood crosses are still on the ground in the quad? Because I’d love to go rip them out right now.” It was disturbing enough as a stand-alone comment, but it generated an alarming 200 “likes.”

Perhaps, at the college level, you anticipate there to be some level of dissenting opinions, even some immature or vile. However, a sixth grade student in Minnesota was recently handing out simple fliers that read, “Save the baby humans. Stop abortion.” She passed them out at lunchtime to friends and classmates interested in the topic. The school considered this political activism and regarded it as offensive. She was banned from passing them out during or after school hours, even if students requested them. The school administration essentially denied this young girl of her constitutionally protected right to free speech. And to make matters worse, they said sixth graders don’t have this right to free speech until they reach high school. Alliance Defending Freedom has since filed a federal lawsuit on the grounds of censorship and “hostility toward religious expression.”

For all ages, the resistance we face from pro-abortion activists is very real. It can be depraved and even threatening. Because pro-abortion activists can’t defend their position, their only response is to attack ours. It’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to be intimidated. We must also remember that there are those currently on the other side who may be open to our message and have a change of heart. Therefore, we must continue to keep calm, rational education at the forefront and not stoop to their level l of baseless attacks. Note: Bradley Mattes is the executive director of Life Issues Institute, a national pro-life educational group.