Students for Life to hold annual week of protests

Kyle Dennan

When walking to class Monday, students might have noticed a display on the Quad – 3,500 bright blue and pink flags arranged in a tight rectangle.

Courtney Pixler, president of Bama Students for Life, said the event, “Cemetery of the Innocents,” is designed to raise awareness about the number of abortions that take place by placing one flag for every legal abortion that occurs daily in the United States.

“It really helps people conceptualize the number of people who are dying per day of abortion, because I think sometimes people can lose sight of the sheer enormity of the abortion industry in America,” she said.

BSL has also been chalking around campus to promote its views, using one slogan in particular that Amanda Reyes, former president of the Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice, said was particularly objectionable.

“Slogans like ‘End Womb Lynching’ have also been chalked on campus,” she said. “Lynching is an act of terrorism that seeks to prevent oppressed groups from resisting the conditions of their oppression. Fetuses are not oppressed. This phrase is extremely offensive to the communities that continue to be terrorized by lynching in the United States.”

Claire Chretien, a sophomore majoring in public relations and American studies and vice president of BSL, said she saw the slogan differently.

“A lot of what the pro-life movement does is make parallels between past social justice movements and the struggle for the right to life,” she said. “BSL did not intend to offend anybody by chalking that, but rather to make a comparison between the struggle for civil rights that African-Americans faced during the civil rights movement, and the struggle for the right to life that the unborn face.”

Pixler said “Cemetery of the Innocents,” which is an annual event, is a recruiting tool for BSL, and the response to it was generally positive.

“We have had a lot of people come up and talk to us or look us up on Facebook or Twitter, and we have had some negative response, but people have been really civil, and just wanting to talk or argue, and we invite that,” she said.

Brianna Fennell, a member of BSL, said many of those who approached the group were pro-choice and were surprised not to encounter religious arguments when they approached members of BSL.

“Most of the people who come up to us are pro-abortion,” she said. “I think a lot of people have this concept that we are arguing our beliefs from a religious standpoint, and a lot of people have expressed surprise that we are secular in our debates.”

Samaria Johnson, incoming president of AASRJ, said the actions of groups seeking to outlaw abortion would have a seriously negative impact on women.

“Abortion is necessary to protect women and children financially, physically, and yes, psychologically; it’s essential for good public health,” she said. “Criminalizing abortion would not stop anyone from obtaining one, but instead would put pregnant [women] at unnecessary health [risk] and either force them into or underscore already dangerous socioeconomic situations.”

Johnson said the actions of BSL were misguided.

“The chalking and the so-called graveyard are absolutely tasteless,” she said. “[They] are forms of intimidation, and intimidation is a form of bullying and harassment.”

This event kicks off a week of anti-abortion action by BSL, which will include a table at the Ferg Tuesday with information on fetal development and other protests on the Quad later in the week.