Right-to-Life Issues in Academia: Political Correctivity in American Higher Education and Strategies for Pro-Life Students in a Hostile College or University Environment

Right-to-Life Issues in Academia: Political Correctivity in American Higher Education and Strategies for Pro-Life Students in a Hostile College or University Environment

Abstract:  Expanding on ideas from last year’s presentation, this workshop identifies and analyzes the stifling political correctivity in certain sections of higher education in the United States.  However, the bulk of the workshop is devoted to practical strategies that students and faculty can use not only to overcome such political correctivity, but also to advance the interests of the pro-life movement on the three life issues of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.  These strategies are intended to guide today’s students to greater activism throughout their academic careers and beyond.

          I must express my gratitude to convention organizers for allowing me to present my ideas about censorship of pro-lifers by academia and ways to challenge and overcome such censorship.  I am not only honored to be here, but also fortunate to be in the company of national and international pro-life activists, who, being pro-life, are always joyous people, unlike anti-lifers whose faces are in a permanent scowl because they suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome and whose vocabulary is often peppered with words which rhyme with “rich” and “duck.”

          [slide 2]  This year’s presentation has four sections.  First, I will reiterate one major idea from last year’s workshop: continued scholarly ignorance or lack of concern about the censorship and suppression of pro-life ideas in academia; this section is about 7% of the total talk.  Second, it is necessary to highlight the significant changes I have observed not only in academic suppression of pro-life free speech rights, but also in pro-life challenges and success in overcoming such censorship; this section is about 20% of the total presentation.  Third, the bulk of this workshop (about 73%) will recommend practical strategies that students, faculty, and administrators can use to overcome anti-life political correctivity.  Several case studies will be presented so that you, the audience, will be able to implement these strategies to analyze and resolve specific controversial situations.  [slide 2, click]  Finally, time will be reserved for questions and answers or, to keep this session lively and humorous, utterly hopeless deer-in-the-headlight stares.

I.  Reiteration of major finding discussed in last year’s presentation

          Last year, I demonstrated how academic databases (which contain professors’ scholarly articles and which students use to support claims made in their research papers) seem to ignore the concerns of pro-life students; this is a trend which has continued in the past year.  For example, if one were to enter the keywords “student”, “pro-life”, and “group”, delimiting for full text and scholarly, peer-reviewed articles with only the years 2017-2019 specified in Academic Search Premier, the search will yield no results.  However, using the same search without specifying scholarly, peer-reviewed articles yields one new record, Leigh Jones’ January 2018 article in World, which will be discussed later.

In contrast, search for “feminist” and “Trump” in the database with the same delimiters and you will find articles on topics and perspectives which seem to concern academics the most.  [slide 3]  Nothing in the most recent search of scholarly articles is as pedantic, antagonistic towards pro-life President Trump, or practically useless as Amanda R. Martinez’ 2017 article, “Monstrosities in the 2016 Presidential Election and Beyond: Centering Nepantla and Intersectional Feminist Activism”, the abstract of which reads as follows:

The article focuses on the bad practices in the campaigns of the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election.  It mentions misogyny, xenophobia, and Islamophobia [and] revealed that White supremacist patriarchy plainly affected American politics and accepting [the] multicultural social climate by Donald Trump.  It also mentions Trump supporters are exerting this control through hate crimes, intimidation, and harassment and social media in search of competing interpretations of [its? the? their?] campaign.

Granted that the abstract itself is poorly written, would you read something like this?  If you are like me, the criterion I apply to anything written by a scholar is: how does this help me to advance the pro-life movement?  If the article does, then I read it.  If it obviously does not, then why waste my time?  A better use of my time is to like or retweet what a pro-life group broadcasts on social media.  Given what purports to be scholarly research like this, no wonder most students ignore their Communications, English, Humanities, and Women’s Studies professors and most Americans view academics as out of touch with reality.  All the more reason one should consult work by members of University Faculty for Life, which will be discussed later.

II.  Highlighting significant changes in past year

Like many pro-lifers in October 2016, after working the phone banks and distributing pro-life campaign literature, given how dismal the outcome of the campaign looked, the best thing I could do was pray, especially when it seemed, according to certain sectors of the media, that violently anti-life Hillary Clinton was going to be president.

I am not a theologian, but any pro-lifer can certainly affirm that [slide 4] a miracle happened on Election Day 2016.  Elections have consequences.  Fortunately, for us, the consequences are not only “all good”, but magnificent.  Certainly, just like their comrades in the so-called major broadcast media and biased social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, anti-lifers in academia are still trying their best to stifle pro-lifers’ free speech.  However, those anti-lifers are being challenged to a greater degree than anyone ever imagined, especially now that pro-lifers know that they have friends not only in the White House, but also across the various departments of the executive branch.

The history of pro-life opposition to the censorship of their beliefs is a long one.  [slide 5]  For example, after citing instances of educational bias, Rachel Zabarkes Friedman offers what she classifies as one “of the most heartening acts of courage” in an October 2004 issue of National Review:

Carolina Students for Life, an anti-abortion group at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, was intentionally excluded from activities planned by the campus Women’s Center, which also refused to post a link to the group’s website.  So group president Stephanie Evans sent a stern but measured letter to the center and copied it to UNC trustees and administrators.  In response (to the letter and the media attention that followed), members of the group were invited to a meeting with a high-level administrator and the Women’s Center director.  They got a link on the website.  The center also posted links to a pregnancy-support service and a site promoting abstinence.  Finally, Carolina Students for Life was invited to participate in future abortion-related events.  “I don’t think we struck any extraordinary deal,” says Evans.  “I think we got what we deserved and what every other student group had gotten.”  (48 and 50)

          [slide 6]  John Jalsevac of the prestigious had this to say about student pro-life groups in the fall 2010 issue of The Human Life Review:

In 1996 a sobering Gallup Poll was released that confirmed what many pro-life activists already suspected, but nevertheless hoped wasn’t true: while 47% of women said they were pro-life when they entered college, by graduation, a whopping 73% said they were now pro-choice.

          Frighteningly, the pro-life movement was losing 26% of all female students who went through a university program.  Clearly, if the movement had any hope of survival in the long run, more needed to be done to reach out to students.


          In 2006, all of that changed.  In that year American Collegians for Life received a sizable start-up grant, changed its name to Students for Life of America (SFLA), hired a professional staff, opened its first national headquarters in Arlington, VA, and launched its historic Pro-Life Field Program.

          Since then, Students for Life has gone on to become one of the most active, and most successful, pro-life organizations in the country.  (104)

          [slide 7]  Andrew Guernsey confirms the value of assertive student action in his commentary in the fall 2015 issue of Intercollegiate Review:

          Earlier […], the Johns Hopkins Spring Fair had attempted to ban Voice for Life, a pro-life student group I founded, from displaying models of fetuses in various stages of development.  The committee in charge of the fair said the models would be “triggering and disturbing” to students.  But when our group fought back—and Fox News and other media outlets began reporting on the story—the committee relented.

Voice for Life almost didn’t make it off the ground.  In 2013 the student government denied our group recognition as an official student club.  But we fought that, too, and the student judiciary committee reversed the decision.

Johns Hopkins recently created a Task Force on Academic Freedom to reassess the university’s policies relating to freedom of speech, owing in no small part to our campus activism.  You can fight back.  (24-5; italics in original)

[slide 8]  Finally, Leigh Jones’ January 2018 article in World, the sole result of the search mentioned above, contains this interesting comment about students forming pro-life groups in their high schools:

In 2015, administrators at a North Dakota school district denied applications for two pro-life clubs, calling them too controversial.  The district approved the applications only after Christian legal firm Thomas More Society sent a warning letter.


Clubs in Washington and Virginia faced similar initial denials.  And in 2017, a Pennsylvania district tried to restrict a pro-life club’s activities to its own members, forbidding the club from engaging in outreach efforts to other students.  Administrators did not back down when Thomas More attorneys intervened, so the students filed a federal lawsuit.  To avoid the litigation, the school district in October agreed to let the club operate freely.

Many more recent news articles exist not only about colleges and universities censoring pro-lifers, but also about pro-lifers fighting back.  Speaking anecdotally, I read about the censorship of a pro-life student or professor and his or her fighting back against the suppression of his or her free speech rights almost daily on pro-life news services.  Where does one go to obtain qualified information about censorship of pro-life views in academia?

As has been suggested, consulting scholarly databases is often fruitless.  Equally useless is consulting the most common search engine on the internet.  [slide 9]  For example, entering the words “pro-life”, “students”, and “censorship” in Google yields 50,100,000 results—results which are unmanageable, probably off topic in most cases, and therefore a waste of time.  Pro-lifers, of course, have two news services which are invaluable for our research purposes.  [slide 10]  Entering those same keywords in the search box for yields 475 results; [slide 11]  the same search on yields 906 results.[1]  While the hundreds of results could be unwieldy, scanning the various citations in these services is much better for two reasons.  First, both LifeNews and LifeSiteNews are focused news entities; they are pro-life and have our interests at heart.  Second, a near repeat of the previous reason, they’re pro-life, and I would rather promote our own agencies—and have my students consult these reputable sources in their papers and presentations—instead of a biased media outlet/organ of anti-life interests like CNN, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, or Time.

III.  Recommending practical strategies and case studies

Having taught Communications, English, and Humanities courses for thirty years and having been in managerial positions concurrently strictly for seven of those years, I offer the following general comments about the lives of academics, administrators, and students and then recommend various practical strategies to overcome academic hostility to pro-life ideas and persons.

Before providing these recommendations, it would be helpful to determine the mindset of a typical college or university administrator and the mindset of a typical student in today’s politically correct academic environment.  Faculty and administrators first.

A faculty member, whether he or she is adjunct or full-time, goes to his or her office, teaches some classes, may assist in committee meetings, grades papers in his or her college’s online learning management system, and goes home hopefully before traffic is heavy.

[slide 12]  An administrator, in contrast, has several other functions which occupy his or her mind.  He or she may have teaching duties, but these teaching assignments are usually beyond his or her other duties such as: reviewing college policies for accuracy and timeliness in accordance with new federal and state regulations or board directives; obtaining candidates for faculty positions; hiring qualified faculty; training faculty on college systems, most notably the learning management system where students will upload assignments and papers; assigning courses on a regular basis, usually per semester or quarter, but looking ahead at least one year; handling student complaints against faculty; handling faculty complaints against students; managing faculty complaints against other faculty; firing faculty; serving on college committees; establishing college committees for tasks not covered by other committees; presenting papers at conferences; publishing papers and other items (articles and books).

Unless the faculty member or administrator is one of those people who simply “love their jobs” and offer the grand philosophical reasoning that they are in education to serve their students’ needs and to build on the corpus of human knowledge, the reality is that most faculty and administrators are there to make money the best way they can in a field which comports with their talents.  Their ultimate goal is retirement when they can draw down an annuity and finally do what they want to do instead of what they have to do.  This may be a jaundiced view of college and university faculty, staff, and administrators, but true.

Similarly, unless he or she is simply in love with learning for the sake of learning, a student has (or should have) one goal in mind: get those magic letters after your name, whether they denote an associate’s degree, or a baccalaureate or master’s degree, or, ultimately, a doctoral degree for the express purpose of making the most money you can before retirement.  Again, this may be a jaundiced view of student goals in colleges and universities, but true.

          More importantly, these perspectives which seem jaundiced will inform the following recommendations.  [slide 13]  Last year, I developed the idea that SWOT could be used in discussing academic censorship of pro-life views.  I would like to expand on that section now, given the changed circumstances of the pro-life movement in the pro-life Trump era.  This section applies primarily to students and faculty who assist students either in the creation of pro-life groups on campus or by guiding them through their academic careers.

Business majors know that SWOT is an acronym which stands for analyzing the strengths of a business proposal, weaknesses of that proposal, opportunities that the proposal can address, and threats to those opportunities.  However, since I like to move from negativity to being positive, I will reverse that order so that pro-life students and faculty can understand the threats they face, the weaknesses which college faculty and administrators may manifest, the strengths that pro-life students possess, and then opportunities available to pro-life students.

[slide 14]  First, the threats.  Granted, pro-life students face the immediate threat of politically-correct faculty squelching their pro-life views if expressed in the classroom during discussion or in written assignments.  I am primarily thinking about papers submitted for English courses or courses in the social sciences, but any subject area can pose threats to pro-life students if the faculty member is stridently anti-life.  It is my experience that attending an institution previously thought “safe” or “friendly” to the pro-life movement (such as a Catholic college) no longer applies.  For example, I was told by one administrator in a purportedly Catholic college in the metropolitan Cleveland, Ohio area that the college “does not necessarily follow Catholic dogma” when it comes to the pro-life issues.  [slide 15]  Consider, also, this LinkedIn message exchange with the president of yet another ostensibly Catholic college in the metropolitan Cleveland area.  I had asked the college president why the institution was not listed as an orthodox Catholic institution in the Cardinal Newman Society’s Newman Guide:

Hi Jeff, good to hear from you.  Here at ***, our focus is more on staying true to the word of Jesus, less about being orthodox.  Are we staying true to helping those less fortunate than us; are we serving the underserved?  Are we helping students to be prepared for the challenges of living a faith-filled life?  Are we helping prepare our students to be successful in life after ***?  I’d be happy to talk with you[r] colleague.  The world of Higher Ed is, as you know, filled with challenges.  Being true to the mission of the school is one of the most important.  Take care.

To which my response was:

Thanks for replying.  Hmmm…you make it sound like being orthodox is not the same as “staying true to the word of Jesus.”  May want to reevaluate that.

It is no surprise, then, that this ostensibly Catholic college hires as its English coordinator an open lesbian who is hostile to the pro-life movement.  That Catholic college has surrendered its Catholic identity for the sake of an ambiguous “inclusion” or “diversity”.  This is not merely a problem that Catholic colleges in the metropolitan Cleveland, Ohio area have, as continued research from the Cardinal Newman Society indicates.  In my estimation, attending a secular institution, such as a community college or state institution, may be more compatible with life-affirming values—as well as significantly less expensive for students.

[slide 16]  How to address this threat of a hostile faculty member or hostile institution?  Students should always appeal to the justice of the pro-life position, making the expression of their pro-life views a matter of equity.  Argue—always politely, yet assertively—that a diversity of opinion requires the pro-life or life-affirming perspective to be included.  Faculty, whether liberal or conservative (using the classic, old-fashioned definitions of the terms), can neutralize fears that their colleagues may have about pro-life students.  Pro-life faculty can counter whatever negative stereotypes that anti-life faculty may have of pro-life students by showing their colleagues that pro-life students are assertive, yes, but eminently educated, reasonable, and willing to work within the institutions to have their free speech rights affirmed.  A final recommendation for this aspect is that faculty need to take the initiative by contacting pro-life groups like the Thomas More Society or University Faculty for Life for (respectively) legal and academic assistance.

[slide 17]  Second, the weaknesses.  All colleges and universities, especially for-profit institutions, depend economically on students.  While some in higher education may hold their jobs because they love to share knowledge and learning, the American reality is that colleges and universities are money-making ventures, and this holds true for non-profits as much as for-profit institutions.  Students bring not only their eager minds to the classrooms, but also their dollars to college bank accounts.

How is this a weakness?  When students leave an institution which is so politically correct that it insults their pro-life beliefs, that college loses the student’s money, whether from Mom and Dad, from the student him- or herself, or, perhaps more importantly, from federal education dollars.  If a sufficiently large drop in the student population occurs, then that college may face serious economic challenges.  Pro-life students should be aware of this weakness and vote not only every two years, but also with their feet to a friendly college if that politically-correct anti-life college does not accommodate their pro-life views.

Moreover, while negative news could have been stifled twenty years ago by a college’s public relations office, any negativity generated by student protests cannot be suppressed today, given the internet, friendly news networks, and social media outlets which, although run by anti-life censors of pro-life free speech, are under scrutiny for censoring us.  No college or university wants the social media hassle of having ordinary people and board members wonder why their college is the target of a social media blast.  Most importantly, a college which is a target of social media protest could influence donors.  Why would any major donor want his or her name associated with a college which is the target of a protest?  As business students and pro-life activists working in various corporate boycott projects know, the mere threat of a boycott can convince a company to stop funding anti-life groups.  Just ask Life Decisions International, which coordinates the corporate boycott of Planned Parenthood, or the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which successfully encouraged Wendy’s to stop funding Samantha Bee’s comedy show (so-called) for her recent vulgar broadcasts.

In summary, to manage these weaknesses from a pro-life perspective, students can demonstrate their opposition to an anti-life institution’s policies by voting with their feet, going to a friendly college if that politically-correct anti-life college does not accommodate their pro-life views.  Both students and faculty (and ordinary pro-lifers, like me, who hop on social media frequently every day) can use such media to publicize censorship of anti-life institutions.

[slide 18]  Third, the strengths.  Pro-life students and faculty have several strengths about which they may be unaware.  Students first.  Pro-life students are young, and any young person invigorates those around him or her.  Whom would you want to have around you, an old man droning on about the Aristotelian concepts of ethos, kairos, logos, and pathos, or a young person able to illustrate how those four concepts apply to the state and national efforts to stop tax funding of the abortion business Planned Parenthood?  Even if a pro-life student does not have a chronological advantage, he or she has passion, a characteristic which may have died in his or her professor, stuck in the stifling politically-correct atmosphere of an anti-life institution.

Moreover, pro-life students bring new perspectives to the life issues that older anti-life academics chose either to ignore or to minimize.  For example, in the heyday of aggressive feminism of the 1970s, no one would have thought that being a feminist was compatible with pro-life beliefs.  Now, that connection is well established.  Around the 1980s, no one would have thought that anyone other than Catholics were pro-life; now, thanks to support from other denominations, only the most ridiculously biased CNN or MSNBC commentator would think that all pro-lifers are Catholic.  In this century, no one would have thought that the movement would shift from the position that legislation had to have exception clauses to allow abortion for rape and incest.  Now, thanks to young pro-lifers, who question the standards of their elders and speak on behalf of those conceived by rape and incest who should not be killed because of the crimes of their fathers, major pro-life organizations are altering their legislative agendas to include those human beings conceived in less-than-perfect circumstances.

And now a word about strength from the faculty perspective.  Faculty are more familiar with end-of-course surveys and ensuing praise from their administrators for work done well or “discussions” with supervisors about teaching which students deemed inferior.  Often, therefore, faculty do not realize how powerful their pro-life witness is in the classroom.  [slide 19]  When I canvassed colleagues for anecdotes to use in this presentation from students who appreciate their pro-life witness, a colleague received this letter from a student, whose words concisely document that faculty member’s influence:

I was never able to write anything influenced by my Christian worldview in my classes previous to meeting you.  […]  You are never afraid to say what you believe (whether it be something Christian, conservative, or pro-life), and I cannot tell you what an impact this has had on me.  Please, if you can, do not stop teaching at ***.  There are so many students like me who are afraid to say what they believe, and you are the one and only conservative Christian professor speaking truth at *** (that I know of).

These strengths will help to convince academics that pro-lifers can be feminist (still a dominant buzzword in the academy), non-Catholic (academia still harbors a strong anti-Catholicism), and inclusive (perhaps the most recent and enduring buzzword added to the list of what constitutes an academic).

[slide 20]  Should anything be said about these strengths?  After all, threats and weaknesses are categories which by definition need recommendations for their resolution.  My three recommendations for this aspect, therefore, are meant to maintain and increase the strengths that already exist.

Pro-life activists who have been in the movement for decades can testify to the lack of a finely developed hierarchical structure to ensure the continuance of their organizations; this is especially obvious in student groups.  For example, a college group may be robust one year, but, when the leaders, who may be seniors, graduate, the activism of students in other leadership positions may decline; when these students graduate, even more leadership skills are lost, etc.  An essential mechanism must be written into the constitution and by-laws of any pro-life group to allow for officers of one level (vice presidents, for example) to move into presidential positions; similarly, for student groups, a by-law should specify that the leadership team of the organization must contain students from the various academic levels (freshmen to seniors).

Second, faculty have the obligation to guide pro-life passion into appropriate channels.  This is not meant to squelch the pro-life passion of younger pro-lifers; it is meant, however, to mentor them so that their action is effective.  After all, pro-life young people are not the snowflakes who smash windows and burn cars when they don’t get what they want.

Finally for this aspect, both students and faculty must constantly perfect what already is going well.  This may not seem as controversial as it is.  After all, why fix it if it ain’t broke?  However, even the most perfect pro-life organizations need to reevaluate their missions, their practices, and their goals.  For example, its mission statement reads that “Students for Life of America exists to recruit, train, and mobilize the pro-life generation to abolish abortion.”  Why is this stated negatively?  Why does the mission statement not read to affirm the first civil right, the right to life?  Where are the other two threats to human life, infanticide and euthanasia?  Should another group be created to fight the killing of the handicapped newborn or the medically vulnerable or aged?  After Terri Schiavo and Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, there should be not be another Terri Schiavo and Charlie Gard or Alfie Evans.

[slide 21]  Finally, the opportunities.  Pro-life students may find two significant effects from their pro-life activism on campus.  First, a pro-life student may find that he or she is not alone.  One pro-life student is only one pro-life student.  Two such students make a group, and three pro-life students form an academic trinity that can change a college.  Second, after identifying themselves, these pro-life students may find that several faculty are pro-life.  Not every academic is a strident anti-life lesbian who attacks pro-life views or who thinks the only way to handle the pro-life policies of President Trump or Rep. Jim Renacci from Ohio (who will unseat anti-life Senator Sherrod Brown in November) is to “resist” them.  Pro-life students may find that many faculty are pro-life and cheer pro-life students (albeit on the sidelines), yet keep silent about their pro-life views because they either must keep their jobs or because they are on the path to obtain tenure.  Pro-life faculty certainly need to encourage students, but students can encourage these pro-life faculty to stand up for their beliefs.

I have six recommendations for this aspect, most of which are complex and long-term and dominantly concern students.  First, donate money now to pro-life groups.  While they are traditionally poor, faculty and students often underestimate their economic power.  Imagine the impact of millions of pro-lifers arranging a donation of five, ten, twenty, or more dollars per month to a pro-life organization of their choice.  Second, some students may want to consider being an academic in your field of interest.  Consider: it is not only the opinions of today’s anti-life professors which are intellectually tired, worn out, and old, but also the professors themselves.  When the anti-lifers retire or go to their eternal reward, who will take their place?  I trust that many of you will investigate this career opportunity so that the half century of academic bias against the first civil right to life can be corrected.  Third, strive for excellence in your academic activities and your scholarship; earn all As.  It is difficult for an anti-life faculty member or administrator to argue against a pro-life student who is polite, academically credentialed, and just plain smart.  Fourth, take advantage of internships not only with companies or organizations in your field, but also with pro-life organizations.  Fifth, aim for the highest degree you can obtain in your field.  Having a certain abbreviated title (like “Dr.”) before your name or certain letters (like “Ph.D.”) after your name substantially increases your credibility when speaking or writing.  This terminal degree will also be crucial in the effort to fulfill the second recommendation, taking the places of retiring or deceased professors.

[slide 22]  Earlier I said that pro-lifers are not alone in fighting for free speech rights in academia.  Fortunately, this is a golden age of pro-life educational resources.  I would like to highlight some of them.


40 Days for Life

Advocates for Family, Life and Religious Freedom

All Girls Allowed

American Association of Pro-Life Physicians and Gynecologists

American Life League

Americans United for Life

Birthright International – 800-550-4900

Campaign Life Coalition

Center for Medical Progress

Christian Medical and Dental Associations

Coalition on Abortion Breast Cancer

Consistent Life

Culture of Life Foundation

Cuyahoga Right to Life

ECLJ • European Center for Law & Justice | Jay Sekulow

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Feminists for Life

Gianna Jessen | Abortion Survivor, Pro-Life Advocate, Speaker

Healing the Culture

Heartbeat International

Heritage House: Pro-Life Supplies for the Pro-Life Movement

Human Family Research Center

I Lived on Parker Avenue Film

International Center on Law, Life, Faith and Family

John Paul II Stem Cell Research Institute

Life Decisions International


LifeTech Conference

Lutherans for Life

March for Life

Michael Fund

National Catholic Bioethics Center

National Right to Life Committee

National Right to Life PAC

Not Dead Yet | The Resistance

Nurses for Life

Ohio Right to Life

Ohio Right to Life PAC

Pharmacists for Life

Population Research Institute

Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians

Prolife World Congress

Pro Vita Advisors

Right to Life of North East Ohio

Silent Scream

Sisters of Life

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC)

Society of Catholic Social Scientists

Students for Life of America

Teachers Saving Children

Teens for Life

Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation

Thomas More Society

University Faculty for Life


Women’s Rights Without Frontiers

Your Life Counts

Now, the case studies.  Four scenarios follow, illustrating controversial aspects of pro-life student activism and college or university administration censorship.  You will not be graded on your responses.  You may use pencil or pen.  No electronic devices are allowed so that no one will text a colleague within this room for an answer.  Seriously, though, since there are no correct answers, enjoy the slides.

[slide 23]  Case study one:   Dr. Hiram Hyperbole teaches Biology.  You like him a lot, especially since he complimented you on your fine research work on embryonic stem cell research in your last paper.  Should you ask him to be the adviser for your campus pro-life group?

a.  Maybe.  Consult first to get others’ opinions.

b.  No.  Anybody who is this old must be a reject from the sixties, probably a hippie.

c.  No.  During class, he mentioned the cons and the pros of embryonic stem cell research.

d.  No.  His car’s bumper sticker reads “Bernie for President.”

e.  Yes.  Another bumper sticker reads “Trump for President.”

f.  Yes.  He supports various free speech causes identified on his left-wing blogs.

g.  Yes.  The door to his faculty office has a “Hillary for Prison” sticker.

h.  None of the above

[slide 24]  Case study two:  Dr. Maria Metaphor is dean of Liberal Arts and a professor of feminist studies.  She opposes your pro-life group’s request for funds to bring anti-Planned Parenthood speakers to campus for a lecture on civil rights.  What should you do?

a.  Ask Uncle Guido to make her an offer she can’t refuse (he makes the best cannoli).

b.  Begin an online petition, asking people to urge the college to uphold students’ First Amendment free speech rights.

c.  Ignore her; there are other votes on the faculty committee which disburses student activities funds.

d.  Picket her house or the restaurant where she dines.

e.  Request a meeting with her to discuss the benefits of having the speaker come to campus.

f.  None of the above

[slide 25]  Case study three:  Mr. Sam Synecdoche, an adjunct faculty member, is pro-life; he began a pregnancy support group in Burkina Faso.  You want to bring Alveda King to campus to discuss the extreme abortion rate among African Americans.  Should you ask him to intercede with the administration to support the effort?

a.  Don’t even try to invite Alveda King, especially if members of your group are all white.

b.  Maybe.  Ask Mr. Synecdoche if he will lose his job over this.

c.  No.  The administration will view you as racist, since you are obviously appealing to mere identity politics.

d.  Yes.  The administration will not reject a request from a person of color.

e.  Yes.  The administration would appreciate anything to assist minority students faced with untimely pregnancies.

f.  None of the above

[slide 26]  Case study four:  The anti-life LGBTQ group on campus (not to be confused with the pro-life one) wants your college’s administration to declare your pro-life group a hate group.  What should you do?

a.  Consult the appropriate code in the student handbook for guidance on how to respond to the charge.

b.  Contact a pro-life lawyer immediately for guidance.

c.  Gather all group communications (emails, newsletters, etc.) to refute the charge.

d.  Hold an ad hoc dialogue with the LGBTQ community to compare how the unborn, the handicapped newborn, and the elderly are just as vulnerable (if not more so) as persons with same-sex attraction.

e.  I wouldn’t touch this with the proverbial ten-foot pole.  Don’t even answer here in this workshop!  This is too hot an issue.

f.  Post online petitions on Facebook, Gab, LinkedIn, and Twitter among others, asking the college to support your free speech rights.

g.  None of the above

I hope that this presentation and your comments during the case studies have helped to encourage you to devote your energies further for pro-life activism in your colleges and universities.  Thank you for your attention and participation.  I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.  [slide 27]

Works Cited

Friedman, Rachel Zabarkes. “The Good and the Bad (Plus Some Ugly).” National Review, vol. 56, no. 19, 11 Oct. 2004, pp. 48-50. EBSCOhost.

Guernsey, Andrew. “Dare to Eat a Chicken Sandwich?” Intercollegiate Review, Fall 2015, pp. 24-5. EBSCOhost.

Jalsevac, John. “Hundreds of Pro-Life Student Groups Sweeping Across U.S. College Campuses.” Human Life Review, vol. 36, no. 4, Fall 2010, pp. 104-6. EBSCOhost.

Jones, Leigh. “The New Pro-Life Generation: High-School Students Are Organizing and Engaging in the Fight for Life, Despite Sharp Opposition from Some Administrators and Peers.” World, vol. 33, no. 1, 20 Jan. 2018, pp. 42-5, Accessed 20 June 2018.

Martinez. Amanda R. “Monstrosities in the 2016 Presidential Election and Beyond: Centering Nepantla and Intersectional Feminist Activism.” Women’s Studies in Communication, vol. 40, no. 2, 2017, pp. 145-9. doi::10.1080/07491409.2017.1302260.

Students for Life of America. “Mission Statement.” Accessed 24 June 2018.

[1] These searches were conducted on 20 June 2018.

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