Catholic university punishes pro-life students while ignoring pro-abortion violence


A group of pro-life students at Viterbo University, a Catholic institution, say they are facing discrimination and harassment on a regular basis, from both faculty and their peers.

Danielle Smits, President of V-Hawks for Life, told Students for Life of America (SFLA) that their club has been forced to go through extra layers of approval in order to hold table events after the group held an event with SFLA Regional Coordinator Matt Murphy in May. The presentation was “No Woman Stands Alone in a Post-Roe America,” but even that innocuous message caused them to face serious harassment.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of resources and support available for pregnant women, but Smits said the group faced an onslaught of angry people, who insulted and screamed at them. Some of the people harassing the small pro-life group were faculty members.

“I thanked [the other campus pro-lifers] profusely for tabling with me because, for the first time, I felt supported as a pro-life student on Viterbo’s campus even if it wasn’t by anyone from the university itself,” Smits said of the event. The pro-lifers present that day took a photo together, and Smits posted it on Instagram, where they then faced even more harassment. Crude, violent, and insulting messages were left, such as:

I hope everyone against women’s access to health burns in hell.

I have boogers in my nose bigger than the babies youre [sic] advocating for

girl shut the f*** up

wish I could abort u

On top of these messages left on Instagram, people began contacting Smits on her private cell phone, sending her messages wishing for her to be raped. She began to fill out hate/bias reports to give to the university. Yet no action was taken against the pro-abortion students; instead, heavier restrictions were placed on the pro-life club.

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“I no longer feel safe walking around campus,” Smits said, adding that SFLA’s Murphy was no longer allowed to come on campus, either. “My Regional Coordinator cannot do apologetics training for our club members, and he cannot be the active support system I very much crave and deserve to have as a student leader. I supposedly have the support of campus to continue this club, but I can no longer actively utilize the resource of my Regional Coordinator that has been giving me strength to keep fighting for the unborn.”

Sister Laura Nettles, Executive Director for Mission and Social Justice, even announced publicly that these restrictions would continue, while telling people that a pro-abortion club would be allowed to form. Nettles further said the pro-life club would not be allowed to hold future events, but that a pro-abortion club was acceptable so long as they did not use the term “pro-choice.”

Unsurprisingly, this has led to more difficulty for Smits and other pro-life students, who rightfully expected that their pro-life ideals (which are in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church) would not come under attack at a Catholic university.

In the meantime, Smits and SFLA have continued to fight to end the discrimination against them on campus, despite the hardships it is causing. Smits says, “I have found myself struggling to ever find true rest on Viterbo’s campus, never knowing what would be said next in contradiction to my faith or my belief that abortion is morally wrong.”

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