Group Claims Right-to-Life Posters Torn Down, Defaced

Last week, Harvard Right to Life (HRL) pinned about 400 anti-abortion posters on bulletin boards in first-year dormitories and undergraduate Houses.

A few days later, the group said, about half of the posters had been torn down or defaced.

In response, Acting Associate Dean Judith H. Kidd sent an e-mail to House Masters on Friday asking them to remind students to respect the rights of all student organizations to poster on campus and the right of freedom of expression.

At least one senior tutor has e-mailed House residents to deliver that message.

Last year, HRL’s “Natalie” posters, which showed the progressive stages of development of a fetus, were also torn down, prompting a campus controversy over the limits of free speech.


The group said it started putting up its first round of posters for this year, which show a picture of a woman holding a baby and the quote, “Women Deserve Better,” around a week ago.

“In most of the houses, about half of the posters are torn down within a day,” said HRL President Daniel R. Tapia ’05.

Paul C. Shultz ’03-’04, an HRL member and also a Crimson editor, said he has “had to re-poster five times in four days” in DeWolfe.

Philip D. Powell ’06 said he put 15 posters in Eliot House Saturday evening, and as of yesterday, only six remained.

Powell also said HRL posters were defaced. On one sign, according to Powell, someone had scrawled a message calling those who oppose abortion “chauvinist, gun-toting, Christian fundamentalists.”

An Eliot House resident, Julia K. Clarke ’06, acknowledged that she removed an HRL poster on a bulletin board near the door of her dorm on the first floor.

“I took the poster down and tore it up,” said Clarke, who felt that the poster was “coercive” and imposing on her “personal space.”

“That’s moral judgment I don’t want to look at when I go into my room everyday,” she said.

Clarke said the proximity—roughly one foot away from her door—and content—a flustered woman saying she was raped and therefore justified in her abortion—influenced her to tear down the poster.

“It was right outside my door and it was making me feel uncomfortable,” she said. “Some posters cross the line.”