abortion

A pro-family group is trying to get St. Norbert College in Wisconsin to drop Gloria Steinem as a speaker for an April event, citing her abortion-rights advocacy.

The school describes Steinem as a “founder of the women’s movement,” advocate for “social justice” and “spokeswoman on issues of equality,” but doesn’t mention her abortion advocacy.

TFP Student Action, a project of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, is gathering signatures to pressure St. Norbert to cancel Steinem’s talk. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition has reached two-thirds of its 20,000-signature goal.

Calling Steinem “a radical pro-abortion promoter,” the group lists several of Steinem’s public quotes that are at odds with Catholic teaching:

[T]he invitation is causing confusion and scandal.  Pro-life students and alumni are deeply troubled by the decision which, if not canceled, will give a Catholic platform to a notorious activist who publically promotes the killing of innocent children. …

How on earth can a woman like Gloria Steinem who has such a public pro-abortion and anti-Catholic record be invited to give a lecture at a Catholic institute, which ought to be a cornerstone in the defense of innocent life and moral values?

Read the petition.

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IMAGE: Ted Abbott/Flickr

A trend seen by prolife activists that frequently engage college students on campuses nationwide is the growing acceptance of post-birth abortion, or killing the infant after he or she is born, campus prolife outreach leaders tell The College Fix.

Anecdotal evidence by leaders of prolife groups such as Created Equal and Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust said in interviews that not only do they see more college students willing to say they support post-birth abortion, but some students even suggest children up to 4 or 5-years-old can also be killed, because they are not yet “self aware.”

“We encounter people who think it is morally acceptable to kill babies after birth on a regular basis at almost every campus we visit,” said Mark Harrington, director of Created Equal. “While this viewpoint is still seen as shocking by most people, it is becoming increasingly popular.”

Campuses where the high school, college students, local activists and staff members of Created Equal have encountered this opinion include Purdue, University of Minnesota, and University of Central Florida. And at Ohio State earlier this year, the group captured a debate on video between one of its members and an older woman on campus who defended infanticide.

“This is the whole problem with devaluing human life at any stage—it will naturally grow to include other groups of humans; in this case, born humans as well as preborn humans,” Harrington said. “[I] talked with one young man at the University of Minnesota who thought it was alright to kill children if they were under the age of 5 years old, as he did not consider them persons until that age.”

Kristina Garza, spokeswoman for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, a prolife organization that often sets up anti-abortion displays on campuses along the West Coast, said her group also frequently encounters college students who accept infanticide.

“For those who are firmly for abortion, because they understand it kills a human being, it’s very easy for them to accept killing a human being after birth,” Garza said. “There is this notion that is common on campus, that it’s OK to kill babies because somehow we don’t become human until we are self aware.”

“A common number that is going around is 4 years old,” she adds.

As for the trend, Garza said there’s an explanation for it. For one, the arguments put forth by Peter Singer and other philosophers who support infanticide are given as reading assignments to college students.

Singer wrote in 1979 that “human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons … [therefore] the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.”

“He has been saying things like this since the 70s, but I think it has been more recently that this type of ideology is being promoted on college campuses,” Garza said. “When he said this stuff, there was a very select few who accepted it. But nowadays, we have become so desensitized, and college students lacking in a moral fiber easily accept this kind of strange ideology.”

But prolife advocacy and engagement on campuses has helped turn students away from pro-choice stances, she adds.

“While the number of students who believe it is OK with killing children after birth is growing, the number of students who accept that life beings at conception is also growing, and that is growing at a larger and faster rate than those who accept infanticide,” Garza said.

“The trends I am seeing is it’s not so much students are better grounded in morals, it’s that we as a prolife movement have done our job in presenting a better argument, and we are pushing people out of the middle,” she said. “We are seeing more students who see the logic and choose to be anti-abortion.”

Yet staunch opposition to the prolife philosphy remains.

Asked about the incident at Ohio State, at which a woman responded to a prolife display by defending infanticide, a pro-abortion activism group at the campus stated its views were similar to those of the woman in the clip.

“As for post-birth abortion, I would imagine that my colleagues would think the ‘post-birth’ part was largely irrelevant, as we believe very strongly in abortion on demand, without apology, and it’s plain and simple that we should look to the woman’s morals and not shove our opinions where they, frankly, don’t belong,” Devin Deitsch, leader of VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood at Ohio State University, said in an email to The College Fix.

“Speaking as the primary leader of VOX, I assure you we are very pro-choice,” Deitsch also noted. “… We are not here to advocate for women to get abortions, we advocate for her ability to make that choice without fear, heckling, or barriers. Essentially, we ask for a woman (and her body) to be respected. Nothing more, nothing less.”

College Fix reporter Mairead McArdle is a student at Thomas Aquinas College.

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IMAGE: Created Equal Facebook screenshot

UPDATED

The Penn Democrats wrote an op-ed in defense of “reproductive rights” for the Daily Pennsylvanian, arguing that women have the right to employer-paid abortion drugs and that abortion-clinic safety rules are “unnecessary.” Fair enough.

But these defenders of bodily integrity make a curious case for their contention that America’s abortion laws are “decades behind many other countries”:

While European countries provide free access to contraceptives and encourage comprehensive sex education, in America, women’s health care autonomy is limited by the religious and moral views of others.

The Penn Democrats are either woefully ignorant of Europe’s abortion laws or masters of omission, because America is far more permissive of abortion than most of Europe.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Cynthia Allen made this point in a Tuesday column on the Texas governor’s race, pitting pro-life Republican Greg Abbott against Democrat Wendy Davis, who made her name on a filibuster of a Texas bill to ban late-term abortions:

In Western Europe — a bastion of liberalism that many progressive policymakers look to with admiration — abortion laws are far more restrictive than those in the U.S.

In Germany, women seeking first-trimester abortions are subject to a mandatory three-day waiting period and a counseling session. Abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are forbidden except in cases of grave threat to the mother’s physical or mental health. France’s laws are similar.

Other nations like the Netherlands, which requires a five-day wait, and the United Kingdom make abortion illegal after viability, generally considered to be between 22 and 24 weeks.

Davis’ absolutist position on abortion puts her to the left of the Netherlands, home of legalized prostitution, marijuana bars and physician-assisted suicide.

Are the Penn Democrats saying they’d rather have stricter laws on surgical abortion in tandem with wide access to birth control? Probably not, because then they would sound like Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in the Colorado Senate race.

Read the Daily Pennsylvanian op-ed.

CORRECTION: The original article incorrectly said Rep. Cory Gardner was a candidate in the Colorado governor’s race. He is a candidate in the Senate race. The article has been updated to reflect this.

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Employees of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles are taking their fight against state-mandated abortion coverage in their insurance plans to the federal government.

The Alliance Defending Freedom and Life Legal Defense Foundation filed a formal complaint Thursday with the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of seven employees of the Catholic university, telling the department that federal law bars states from discriminating against insurance providers who offer plans without abortion coverage.

The alliance on Thursday also told Pennsylvania State University it should reverse a decision to remove Bibles from hotel rooms that was prompted by an atheist group’s earlier complaint that allowing Bibles violated the First Amendment.

The California Department of Managed Health Care did an about-face last month and rejected insurance plans it had already approved for Loyola and Santa Clara University, saying they must cover all abortion, not just elective abortion. Its rationale was that all abortions are “medically necessary.”

The so-called Weldon Amendment blocks states from receiving certain federal funds if they discriminate against insurance providers for not covering abortion.

The California department “purports to be interpreting and applying the law of California, a state that receives an enormous amount of ‘funds made available in this Act’ in this and recent appropriations” of Congress, the letter told the Department of Health and Human Services. “The need to remedy this discrimination is urgent because it is immediately depriving [the employees] of a health plan that omits elective abortions.”

In a Sept. 8 response to a letter from the alliance and foundation that California was not only violating federal law but also misinterpreting its own state constitution, Shelley Rouillard, director of the California department, didn’t specifically counter those groups’ analysis.

Rouillard said California law dating to 1975 “requires health plans to cover abortion as a basic health care service” and the state constitution requires them to “treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.” Her response was included in the groups’ complaint to the federal government.

“No state can ignore federal law and continue to unlawfully receive taxpayer money,” said the alliance’s Casey Mattox in a press release. “So California has a choice: Stop forcing these employers to cover abortion or forfeit the tens of billions of dollars it receives under the condition that it follow the law.”

Liable for ‘Viewpoint Discrimination’ Against Bibles

In its letter to Penn State protesting the school’s removal of Bibles provided by Gideons International from two campus hotels, the alliance reminded the school that it had previously and successfully sued the school for its speech code and “zone” policies and for denying alumni the right to include “religious inscriptions” on alumni-purchased bricks on campus.

But the alliance told President Eric Barron it was writing in a “spirit of cooperation” to counter the legal analysis provided the school by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Supreme Court precedent “affirmatively mandates accommodation” of religions under the First Amendment’s establishment clause, and Penn State had been “merely accommodating the religious needs and desires of many of its guests” by allowing the Bibles in rooms.

Both federal appeals court that have considered how public universities may accommodate religion – in the context of “clergy-led prayers” at graduation – have ruled that the First Amendment does not mandate universities become a “religion-free” zone, the letter said. The atheist group’s view that Bibles in guest room drawers are “offensive” has no bearing on Penn State’s legal obligations, it said.

The school may have even “exposed itself to potential liability” by caving to the atheist group’s demands, the letter said. “Presumably, the guest rooms include a variety of printed materials” that are not religious in nature, meaning Penn State has illegally shown “hostility towards religion” and “engaged in viewpoint discrimination” in violation of the First Amendment.

The alliance noted that the U.S. Navy recently reversed a decision to remove Gideons-provided Bibles from base lodges following a warning from the same atheist group and an opposing letter from the alliance making the same points that it told Penn State.

Penn State shouldn’t let itself “be browbeaten” by the atheist group “into taking unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional actions,” the alliance’s David Hacker said in a press release.

Greg Piper is an assistant editor at The College Fix. (@GregPiper)

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IMAGE: Ted Abbott/Flickr

Leave it to a group of godless college students to say they have unfettered freedom to mock God in public on campus, but a group dedicated to defending human dignity doesn’t have the same right – even if it preemptively warns passers-by.

Boise State University and Abolitionists4Life will “meet to set a date for trial” later this month in the pro-life student group’s First Amendment lawsuit against the school, The Arbiter reports.

The school required Abolitionists4Life to install “warning signs” in front of “graphic” images it used in two events last spring, and prevented it from distributing fliers outside a small free-speech zone, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal group representing the pro-life students, said in June.

Warning signs are required for events that involve “controversial issues, specifically graphic pictures,” a university official allegedly told the group.

It’s not clear what was “graphic” about the images – the Arbiter said they depicted “unborn fetuses in various stages of development” and the lawsuit said the student group uses “images about abortion” in its advocacy, but neither mentions aborted fetuses specifically.

The Secular Student Alliance, which has “distributed fliers denying the existence of God” unimpeded on campus according to the Arbiter, has a problem with Abolitionists4Life’s freedom to use “graphic” images at all:

Jake Wolford, president of Secular Student Alliance, protested the events last spring and questioned whether the images displayed were suitable, even with the warning signs.

“Just having these huge pictures of aborted fetuses is gross,” Wolford said. “Is this even OK?”

There are all sorts of “gross” things on campus, many of them celebrated by Wolford’s putative allies – look at practically any campus “Sex Week.” But subjectively finding something “gross” says nothing about a speaker’s right to convey a message using it.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether images of aborted fetuses, if that’s indeed what’s at stake, have their intended effect of making people recoil against abortion. But the effectiveness of a student’s message is not a university’s concern.

And students who advocate censorship for their opponents can’t be surprised when a school turns around and hinders speech that they like.

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Just when you thought race-based excuses couldn’t get more ridiculous, here’s yet another tidbit about University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Mireille Miller-Young.

As The College Fix has reported, back in March Miller-Young and some pals approached a couple of anti-abortion protesters. Eventually, the prof snatched away one of their displays and then got into an altercation with the younger of the protesters, which left scratches on the latter’s arm.

Last month, the feminist studies professor pleaded no contest to “misdemeanor counts of battery, theft and vandalism.” But now, several of her colleagues have offered up a … “unique” defense of sorts: the “cultural legacy of slavery.”  The Daily Caller reports:

UCSB history professor Paul Spikard charged in his letter to Judge Hill that Miller-Young has been the victim of “an energetic smear campaign that seems to have little to do with her person or her actions, and a great deal to do with fomenting racial hatred and rallying right-wing political sentiment.”

“It would be tragic if Dr. Miller-Young were sentenced to jail time or mandatory anger management classes based on the press’ portrayal of her as an Angry Black Woman,” Spikard wrote.

“She was at the stage of a pregnancy when one is not fully one’s self fully, so the image of a severed fetus appeared threatening,” (fellow UCSB feminist studies professor Eileen) Boris wrote, according to Fox News.

“If she appears smiling on camera, she is ‘wearing the mask,’ that is, she is hiding her actual state through a strategy of self-presentation that is a cultural legacy of slavery.”

Read the full story here.

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