In recent months, there has been an uptick in vandalism of pro-life displays on college campuses. Students for Life reports that in a single week three pro-life college groups affiliated with Students for Life encountered “major incidents of vandalism.”
One incident at the College of New Jersey involved flags memorializing children lost to abortion and informational material. Repeatedly, pro-choice students removed signs, in one instance dumping coffee on them, and eventually all the flags were stolen. Meanwhile, at Southern Methodist University in Texas, pro-life students had approval to display more than one thousand crosses, each representing a child killed and mother hurt by abortion. Pro-choice students posted signs close to the display with their own, pro-abortion messages. Though they did not actively vandalize the pro-life display this time, they did last year. In South Dakota, students who organized a pro-life week at Augustana University faced continual harassment throughout all of their events and displays, both in person and online.
There seems to be a common theme in these incidents of vandalism. When faced with memorials for preborn children killed in abortion, pro-choice students insist that “a woman has a right to her own body” and therefore the pro-life memorial must be censored. Sometimes the wording changes but the pro-choice claim is remarkably consistent. In the case of the College of New Jersey, a pro-choice student vandalized on sign with the message, “Stop making memorials to guilt trip women.” At Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, pro-choice students spray-painted over the “Cemetery of the Innocents” sign to say “pro-life is anti-woman.”
These statements are a mischaracterization of the pro-life displays, as the memorials were meant to bring awareness about the reality of abortion, not to antagonize women. Perhaps the reason the memorials are such a threat to pro-choice students, often prompting them to vandalism and even violence, is because acknowledging the child killed in abortion shatters the “bodily autonomy” claim that has become central to arguments in favor of abortion. It is possible to make cemeteries and memorials for the preborn because they, too, have bodies. In an abortion, a preborn baby’s body is violently ripped apart, ending a human life.
Memorials to the preborn point out that a woman’s right to her own body does not nullify the rights of another body in the unique circumstance of pregnancy. The memorials are not a condemnation, but, as many pro-life groups have stated many times, they are an invitation to conversation. Sadly, many pro-choice students refuse to engage in conversation and instead want to ignore the First Amendment to make sure that the “right” to abortion is never questioned.
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