Pro-choice students respond to pro-life demonstration

On+Tue.%2C+Mar.+28+--+between+Falcon+Square+and+the+learning+center%2C+there+was+an+anti-abortion+demonstration.+The+counter-protesters+believed+that+such+a+gruesome+image+should+not+be+shown+in+public.+Photo+credit%3A+Benjamin+Garcia

On Tue., Mar. 28 — between Falcon Square and the learning center, there was an anti-abortion demonstration. The counter-protesters believed that “such a gruesome image” should not be shown in public. Photo credit: Benjamin Garcia

Benjamin Garcia

“I believe that everyone has the right to freedom of speech,” said theater arts major Issac Simons-Arraya, “however, I feel that this particular image is very inflammatory and disturbing.”

He was referring to a sign displayed between Falcon Square and the learning center, which depicted an illustration of an aborted fetus.

Simons-Arraya went on: “However, we as students have a right to stand here and cover it.”

After saying this, the group of counter-demonstrators were initially asked to stand on the pavement — a ways off from the poster so as to “not obstruct freedom of speech” — and then sat on the grass adjacent to the sign in protest.

Elizabeth Miller, the Dean of Student Services, explained that she asked them to move away from the other group (who has a right to be present, being that the location is public property), to allow there to be free movement around the sign and to not block the sign — to encourage discussion about the issues at hand.

Simons-Arraya stated that he first reported the issue to Student Grievances Office and Student Grievances reported it to campus police. He believes that by that virtue, he went through the proper avenues — to ensure that no freedom of speech laws would be obstructed.

The anti-abortion demonstrators sent by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform — were also handing out pamphlets that compared abortion to the Holocaust and slavery on the front, and on the back asking the question: “Is a ballerina less of a person than a football player because she is smaller?”

The Director of Operations of The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform Kevin Olivier stated that the center’s mission is to educate the public on the issue of abortion in a effort to encourage people to reject abortion and “[change] our society, it’s perspective on abortion and laws around abortion.”

He went on to explain that “someone should not support abortion because abortion is the intentional taking of the life of a human being.”

Emma Simons-Arraya, a theater major and counter-protester, stated that she — by blocking the sign — was exercising her first amendment right to defend and protect other’s emotions.

She said, “I believe that everyone has the freedom to chose what is right for their own bodies, and this particular image portrays something exceptionally gruesome — that may or may not be a reality.”

According to Elizabeth Miller, Student Services called the campus police to ensure that the protest and counter-protest would remain peaceful.

Police Chief Tom Gallivan confirmed that the police were just involved to “keep the peace.” He added that when there is any incident that may disturb students, police will react and put signs that warn passersby that there are graphic images.

He finished saying: “Our role as campus police is to protect freedom of speech. When people come on campus, it’s not necessarily a reflection of the college. We really appreciate the students voicing their opinions and their anti-stance in a very calm and reasonable manner, because everyone has a right to freedom of speech.”