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Since the “Little Natalie” poster campaign began last fall to educate Harvard students with factual representations of a baby’s development before birth, hundreds of posters have been torn down as Harvard Right to Life (HRL) members sat back in frustration. This blatant oppression of free speech, however, has recently been dealt with by the Undergraduate Council in a recent meeting to discuss the intolerance towards the posters. The council passed a bill supporting measures for reimbursing organizations like HRL for all posters torn down by students seeking to silence other opinions and end discussion.
One qualm that has been expressed about these posters is that, since miscarriages take place on campus, these posters remind women about the loss of their children. However, the heartbreak of women who have had to bear miscarriages serves as further motivation for the spread of information to other mothers who face the similar horrible fate of losing their child. No woman who has suffered a miscarriage would wish it upon another—the death of one’s baby constitutes one of the most painful experiences a mother could endure. It is for this reason that HRL works to spread information to better inform other mothers, and the student body in general, about the facts of a baby before it is born so that the pain felt by these women can be avoided.
Not only have those at Harvard exhibited a bias against pro-life groups, but the national media has as well. Last January over a hundred thousand people came from all parts of the United States to Washington, D.C. to support the dignity of mothers and unborn babies in the annual March for Life. In the news after the march, the media’s bias became apparent. “Pro-life” people were “anti-abortion” while the other side was graced with the comfortable “pro-choice.” It was amazing; the names they used just aren’t honest. Everyone is in favor of something as abstract as “choice”—people have to make decisions every day. The reality is that “pro-choice” people are “pro-abortion.”
“Pro-life” people are really just that. We aren’t just opposed to abortions; we care about the lives of the elderly, the unborn and the handicapped. To label us “anti-abortion” (though we certainly do believe that abortions end lives and so are opposed to them) inaccurately restricts our mission and portrays us in a negative light. The disproportionate media attention given to “pro-choice” advocates, the refusal to even mention the overwhelming number of pro-lifers and the focus given to those in favor of abortions in interviews reflected a real bias.
Here at Harvard, the Natalie posters have shown real pictures of what a baby looks like and have showcased facts marshaled to dispel the myth that a fetus is nothing more than a random blob of cells. Our posters have been torn down by hundreds, labeled offensive and called a “vicious campaign against women.” How information about a developing baby is any of those things, I don’t know. To say that a simple exclamation point, a Dr. Seuss quote or the naming of the child spells manipulation is a stretch. While people complained about these specific features, what seems more likely is that they are actually afraid of what the information implies. If a fetus truly does have a heart and fingers and its own distinct nature and looks just like any normal baby so long before it’s born, that’s scary for a lot of people. It might force them to draw connections between the fetus being a living person and abortion’s inherent immorality.
All sides of this debate want information to be available so that pregnant women can make good decisions. Preventing that information from being available is wrong and should be discouraged. Unfortunately, even asking tutors to ask their students to stop tearing down posters has been less successful than hoped. On one floor in DeWolfe, posters were torn down nine times in two days while the proctors refused to lift a finger. The Quincy dining hall stairs frequently bear the remnants of posters torn down just a few minutes after being put up.
The HRL’s speakers and posters are designed to educate and inform all students—both men and women—about abortion. While the media hides information or presents it in a light favorable to their own agenda and parts of the campus are opposed to informing students, Harvard Right to Life is working to spread information. After all, abortion has such a profound influence on the lives of women that it should be better understood.
Daniel R. Tapia ’05, a biological sciences concentrator in Mather House, is a member of Harvard Right to Life.
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