Missed the “Smile, your mom chose life!” posters around the Yard last week? Thanks to some of your fellow classmates, probably so. Just as regular as the descent of midterm season in October is the tearing down of Harvard Right to Life’s posters every time pro-life students attempt to share their message of life with the campus. In 2008, HRL’s Cemetery of the Unborn in front of the Science Center was even vandalized. The posters have been consistently ripped down for years, going back far longer than any undergraduate has been on this campus, with barely a protest from most students and the administration.
Imagine your own student group’s posters and fliers being ripped down across campus, not just once but every time for many years. It’s downright shameful. On a campus known for its diversity, but this action reveals the sad truth that diversity of opinion is oftentimes not welcomed and the sadder truth that someone does not respect life. Why doesn’t HRL deserve the freedom of expression? According to the Crimson archives, past students have criticized the poster campaigns because they “really create an uncomfortable atmosphere” and “irritate pro-choice supporters on campus.” It seems rather odd that posters seeking to persuade parents to choose life would infuriate students who state that they support a woman’s right to choose. Consistently attacking and silencing the pro-life message is pro-choice only if the choice is death.
The actions taken at Harvard have been mirrored those of the Obama administration. In August 2010, the Department of Justice and FBI co-sponsored a training event with the National Abortion Federation, the Feminist Majority Federation, and Planned Parenthood on violence against abortion providers. The Resource Guide distributed at the conference listed “the use of huge anti-abortion posters” and “boycotts against abortion providers” as past examples of “clinic violence.” Statistics used in the publication include “picketing” as a “violent incident.” This is obviously ridiculous. Unfortunately, the administration and its pro-abortion allies believe it.
Having defined peaceful protests as acts of violence, the Obama administration has wasted no time in taking legal action against individuals attempting to ensure that mothers make the most informed choice. Dick Retta, a 79-year-old pro-life sidewalk counselor in Washington, D.C., was sued in July by the Obama administration for being “one of the most vocal and aggressive anti-abortion protestors” and blocking access to the clinic, a charge he flatly denies. The administration has declined to prosecute the multiple Planned Parenthood escorts who have pushed him aside to prevent him from talking with parents and one abortion advocate who sprayed him with pepper spray.
On the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Obama stated that the decision “affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.” Meanwhile, his administration has “intruded” on the rights of all individuals who seek to ensure that parents make the best decision. Dick Retta and Harvard Right to Life have done nothing to impede women from aborting their children. All they seek to do is ensure that they make the most informed choice possible, because abortion is not a procedure that destroys a few insignificant cells. It is a procedure that kills a fetus that just so happens to grow into a human because it is human. When society defines human life based on a number of cells, it is impossible to determine and prove which number of cells is significant, perhaps explaining Obama’s confusion over his support of infanticide. Furthermore, the pro-life movement also seeks to educate women about the negative consequences of abortion. Sociologists at the University of Austin-Texas and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have found that, controlling for a variety of factors, “abortion may contribute to depression in emerging adulthood.”
For revealing these facts, the pro-life movement has been demonized and persecuted, and their persecution reveals the very nature of a Democratic Party that believes that abortion on demand is a human right. It is a movement that believes abortion is a good for society and silences those who would argue otherwise, and it is evil. Being unwanted or less than perfect should not be a crime worthy of the death penalty. Instead, it is a sad reflection of the extent to which society has degraded the most transcendent of all rights: the right to life, without which all other rights are irrelevant. As Rep. Paul Ryan has argued, “The freedom to choose is pointless for someone who does not have the freedom to live.”
So, the next time you see a Harvard Right to Life poster gracing the Yard, respect the diversity of opinion on this campus. Appreciate the diversity of life. And smile, because your mom chose life!
Derek J. Bekebrede ’13 is an economics concentrator in Winthrop House. His column appears on alternate Tuesdays.