Students for Life Wins Free Speech Case with Settlement in California

Fresno State Professor Ordered to Make Restitution and Undergo First Amendment Training

“College campuses should be a place of vigorous and respectful debate, but instead we often find people like Professor Greg Thatcher who abuse authority to block pro-life speech,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins.

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins called the settlement announced today in Fresno State Students for Life v. William Gregory Thatcher “a victory for all students who have the same Constitutional rights as professors. As our interactive map illustrates, nationwide we are seeing incredible opposition to pro-life speech as our student leaders and volunteers speak for the defenseless, reach out to pregnant women, and educate on the violence of abortion. But as this case illustrates, we are not going to be silent, even if it takes going to court. I want to thank Alliance Defending Freedom for fighting to protect the rights of our students who bravely speak up for preborn children every day. Right now, Students for Life is engaged in an Abortion = Violence campaign that is going to more than 90 college campuses, so let this case put college administrations on notice that we expect students’ rights to be respected and that the free market place of ideas include college campuses.”

In May, Bernadette Tasy, the president of Fresno State Students for Life, received permission to chalk pro-life messages near the school library. The messages expressed support for pregnant and parenting students and presented information about the development of an unborn child. Tasy observed and recorded students destroying the messages, telling her that they were instructed to by Dr. Thatcher, a public health professor.

Thatcher then proceeded to give Tasy a lecture on free speech that misstated both the law and university policy, claiming that the group could only speak in a speech zone the university eliminated two years ago. Eventually he said, “You had permission to put [the chalkings] down … I have permission to get rid of it,” as he used his sneaker to scrub over what was written. Thatcher also said, “College campuses are not free speech areas.”

In the settlement, Thatcher will pay $1,000 to Tasy and $1,000 to another student, Jesus Herrera, along with some attorneys’ fees. The professor is also required to undergo some First Amendment training to be provided by ADF.

When the lawsuit was filed, ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom observed: “Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, educators, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that university professors model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students, and why it should disturb everyone that this Fresno State professor, like so many other university officials across the country, is communicating to a generation that the Constitution doesn’t matter.”

As Hawkins’ recent column “Shouldn’t Pro-Life Students Have the Same Free Speech Rights as Millionaire Athletes?” illustrates, SFLA has been engaged in protecting students’ rights nationwide. For interviews, e-mail

National Pro-Life Student Leader Takes Debate on the Truth about Feminism and Abortion to Ivy Leagues, Kicking Off the Tour at Berkeley

“Women’s interests in an integrated, successful life have been reduced to abortion by aging, second-wave feminists who fail to work for an agenda that empowers today’s student leaders,” said Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins.

Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins kicks off a national tour this week when she visits Cal-Berkeley to launch her “Lies Feminists Tell Tour” on Thursday, October 26. A well-known abortion debater and advocate for women’s empowerment, Hawkins served on President Trump’s pro-life advisory council during his campaign. The Thursday event begins at 7 p.m. at Wheeler Hall 130 on campus.

“Those who lead feminist organizations and champion the cause of abortion are not about equal rights for men and women like the first wave of feminists, Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul,” said Hawkins. “Instead they are about pushing an extreme pro-abortion agenda and promoting the corrupt business practices of questionable organizations like Planned Parenthood. We know that college campuses tend to lean liberal and promote pro-abortion messages. Too often, students are told that the ‘right’ to abortion on demand and free birth control, provided at the taxpayer expense, is synonymous with feminism. Students today deserve to know the truth about the history of feminism, abortion, and contraception in our nation. And we are taking our message to campuses nationwide because we are not afraid of a conversation in territory considered favorable to modern, failed feminism.”

In her speeches, Hawkins will address several of the common lies feminists tell, including: the lie that most women support abortion, that women need free contraception to succeed, that women need abortion to achieve their career goals, and that abortion is harmless and without consequences.

Cal-Berkeley has been plagued with free speech issues as of late. Speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter have faced violent protests over their scheduled appearance on campus. The group is not anticipating any issues, however.

Hawkins is being hosted by Cal Students for Life. The event is open to the public and all are welcome to attend. There will be a Q & A after the event. To speak to Kristan before or after the event, please contact Kristi Hamrick at

Dates for the tour continue to be added, but confirmed locations include: October 26th: Cal-Berkeley: November 6: Princeton University; November 7: Dartmouth University; November 8: Harvard University; November 16: University of Kansas; November 17: Benedictine University (Kansas); November 28: University of California- Irvine; November 29; University of Southern California.

CHECK IT OUT: Kristan Hawkins’ free speech op-ed on Fox News

The uproar over Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to leave the Colts-49ers game after some NFL players took a knee during the national anthem again highlights the intense cultural debate over free speech that seems of utmost importance to the media and activists. Yet not all “speech” is treated as equal in coverage and attention.

Over the last few weeks, the free speech rights of students on college campuses have been violated as peaceful chalk messages from students have been destroyed, flyers pulled down and permits for new pro-life groups and speakers slow walked through the approval process to prevent voices from being heard. If you haven’t heard about the college blockade taking place even this week, perhaps it is because the students whose voices are being forcibly silenced favor life over abortion. And while they may not get the attention that millionaire athletes can garner, their points of view are no less valid.

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Students for Life Calls Changes to Healthcare Mandate “a choice that shows respect for all Americans”

“It should surprise no one that the abortion lobby pushed to force Americans to pay for their deadly drugs and services, but it’s un-American for taxpayers to be forced in to court to enjoy their Freedom of Religion,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins.

WASHINGTON D.C. (10-06-17) – Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins praised the Trump Administration for changes to the mandates attached to the Affordable Care Act, calling it “a choice that shows respect for all Americans.”

Hawkins made the following statement: “The Obama Administration wrote the healthcare mandates with the help of the abortion industry, deliberately forcing people of faith to subsidize drugs some find morally objectionable. Even more offensive, they also mislabeled drugs that end life as ‘contraception’ and forced funding for them, too. That fact that nuns had to go to court to fight for their Constitutional right to freedom of religion when it comes to the contraceptive mandate shows just how broken the Obamacare mandates were.

“The Trump Administration also addressed the stealth abortion coverage in some of the qualified health plans by separating abortion, which is not healthcare, from the core list of things covered. Now, Americans will be informed if a plan they choose has abortion coverage in it, and they will need to pay separately for that coverage. Tax dollars will not be spent providing abortion coverage that people may not even know that they have in their plan.

“Students for Life thanks President Trump for following through on his promises to address the injustice created by the mandates in Obamacare. It should surprise no one that the abortion lobby pushed to force Americans to pay for their deadly drugs and services, but it’s un-American for taxpayers to be forced in to court to enjoy their Freedom of Religion. Still, fixing the healthcare law is just step one. No taxpayer dollars should go to abortionists, like those at Planned Parenthood, which is still raking in more than half-a-BILLION dollars a year in taxpayer monies. Planned Parenthood must be defunded – whether through changes in the healthcare law, in the tax proposal, or any other bill that legislators want to introduce.”

New Group: Harvard Law Students for Life

Written by Jane Riccardi, Students for Life’s New England Regional Coordinator

Last week, the newly founded Law Students for Life at Harvard Law School hosted Dr. Robert P. George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, for their inaugural event.  Dr. George’s lecture, “Are Human Embryos Human Beings?  Are They Persons?” was substantially attended by over one hundred Harvard students and faculty.  It is entirely fitting that the group’s first event should center on the question of human personhood, since the

question of whom the law protects underlies any study of jurisprudence.  Although the audience comprised of students from varying opinions on the topic, Dr. George’s remarks were received with respectful attention.  Chase Giacomo, a 2L and the president of the group, was pleased with the success of the event.  “Our group was very excited to see such a large turnout at our inaugural event with Dr. Robert George,” he remarked.  “We believe the event signifies a shift in momentum for the pro-life movement at Harvard Law School.”

This, the willingness to engage a difficult and controversial subject or at least to engage an uncomfortable idea in the spirit of supporting intellectual diversity, is exactly what the group hopes to achieve.  It is integral for prestigious schools such as Harvard Law to cultivate an environment conducive to productive, respectful, and engaging discussion.  To this end, the mission statement of the group is as follows:

“We aim to provide a community in which students can develop pro-life approaches to moral and legal questions, and to advocate for pro-life perspectives in the broader law school community. HLS Students for Life is dedicated to peacefully promoting its beliefs through education, discussion, community engagement, advocacy, and scholarship.”

Having only coalesced earlier this year, the group has already met with notable success in this mission, having already sparked conversation not only the immediate community, but with thinkers across diverse academic disciplines via the platform of the Harvard Law Record.  In a recent article in the Record, Anne Stark, a 1L and the VP of Communications for the group, writes:

“We think our society can and must do a better job of supporting pregnant women and mothers through generous maternity/paternity leave policies, pregnancy-related medical care, and financial support for low-income families. We should think deeply as a society about what we can do to further gender equality and to help women achieve their full potential professionally.  However, we do not think abortion is the answer to this problem. In fact, to say that it is begins with the wrong premise – that professional opportunity itself is a sufficient justification for abortion. Yet no one is free to do as they please to succeed professionally, untethered from countervailing moral restraints. Which leads to the foundational question that Dr. George addressed at our event: is the human embryo a human person? The answer to that question must weigh in our thinking about proper means to advance professionally. If the answer is yes, professional achievement cannot justify the taking of another’s life. That an embryo is a human person unequivocally answers the question of whether abortion is a proper means for women to advance their careers, but this does not mean that women are barred from success.”

It is highly cheering that this kind of intellectually well-rounded consideration of abortion is occurring at one of the nation’s top academic institutions.  I look forward to seeing how these students influence the conversation in the public square at Harvard.

Follow the conversation:

Read:  The Least Safe Space 

Where Are All the Women and Men?

SFLA Files Amicus Brief with Supreme Court to Uphold Texas Abortion Law

Students for Life of America filed an amicus brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of the Texas law, HB2, which demands abortion providers be held to the same health and safety standards as other outpatient surgical centers. The theme of the brief revolves around the pro-life views of this generation and how it is influencing the drop in the abortion rate.

“The abortion rate is in decline, as is the number of facilities, and it is partly due to the fact that this generation is more pro-life than their parents and grandparents and therefore are not seeking abortions and are helping friends and family members faced with unplanned pregnancies to choose life for their child,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “While HB2 may have attributed to abortion facilities closing earlier than expected, it is not the driving force. The abortion industry is in a freefall because they realize that they need to push abortion now more than ever and they are pushing it to a generation where the majority find abortion to be morally reprehensible.”

The SFLA brief states, in part:

While the significant reductions in numbers of abortions and thus decline in clinics may be surprising to some, they are precisely what you would expect based on cultural trends. Americans, particularly young Americans, are increasingly pro-life. In 1991, 36 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds believed abortion should be legal in all circumstances. That number has dropped to 24 percent by 2009…And regardless of their views on the legality of abortion, a 2013 study revealed that 49 percent of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong in contrast to 15 percent who believe it is morally acceptable.

See the full brief here:

This U.S. Supreme Court case will look at the requirements for abortionists to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of the facility and require that abortion facilities meet the standards set for all ambulatory surgical centers.

“As an organization, SFLA is happy to be speaking for this pro-life generation and the fact that they are not only opposed to abortion but are passionate about helping women facing crisis pregnancies,” said Hawkins. “Our Pregnant on Campus Initiative is one of our fastest growing programs and our students look forward to the day when abortion is unthinkable. We hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the Texas law.”

If Planned Parenthood Loses Government Funding, Here’s a Map of Health Clinics That Could Take Its Place


Two leading pro-life organizations released a map today intended to showcase the thousands of community health care clinics that could step in for Planned Parenthood if it were to lose federal funding.

The map adds to a heated conversation about whether stripping Planned Parenthood of its $500 million annual taxpayer dollars would hurt women’s health care in America, or if women would be better off without it.

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Advocates for Life Writing contest!

Americans United for Life announces its 2015 Advocates for Life Legal Writing Contest open to law students at ABA-accredited law schools who graduate in the spring of 2014 or later. This contest is open to individuals and to pairs. The deadline is Nov. 30, 2015. Get details here.