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.
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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: http://studentsforlife.org/files/2016/02/Whole-Womans-Health-amici-CL-CLI-SFL-16-02-02-Final.pdf
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.”
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.
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.
BACK TO CLASS! As you get underway for your busy fall semester, consider all the resources thatMed Students for Life and Law Students for Life have to offer you for FREE. If you need organizing, planning, or event help for your group, please contact one of Students for Life Regional Coordinators in your area. You can see this list here. To arrange an expert pro-life speaker for your fall or spring semester, please contact Cathy.
Students for Life has been busy this summer helping to expose the warped business model of Planned Parenthood, as shown through #PPSellsBabyParts scandal with the release of the horrible undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress. The Women Betrayed website has an action kit, upcoming event ideas, and talking points about how to answer Planned Parenthood supporters, which you no doubt will encounter. Feel free to use and share these resources.
STUDENTS FOR LIFE CLUB AT VEGAS HIGH SCHOOL CENSORED; SCHOOL GETS DEMAND LETTER
Amy Dockter-Rozar, Principal of West Career and Technical Academy, and the Clark County School District have received a demand letter from the Thomas More Society, on behalf of sophomore Angelique Clark and Students for Life of America. The letter charges that school administrators have unconstitutionally discriminated against Angelique by denying her the right to form a Students for Life club at West Career and Technical Academy.
This is the third demand letter that Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society have sent this semester in support of high school students who were censored by their school administers.
“No high school administrator has the right to deny pro-life students their free speech rights,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “Brave students like Angelique set amazing examples for their peers both in their own communities and on a national level by standing up not only for the preborn and their mothers facing unplanned pregnancies, but for their own First Amendment rights as well. We are so proud of Angelique, who reached out to Students for Life of America for assistance, and for our attorneys at the Thomas More Society for their help to make Angelique’s Students for Life group an official, school-based club, with the same rights as her peers.”
Angelique Clark, a sophomore at West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, submitted her application to start a Students for Life club in December 2014. After months of no response from the school administration, she was finally told by her advisor in February 2015 that Vice Principal Mr. Allan Yee had denied the club. Angelique met with Mr. Yee and was given a variety of reasons why the club could not be approved, including that abortion was “controversial,” that a pro-life club would make pro-choice people feel left out, and that there were others “more qualified” to speak on the issue than a high school sophomore.
“I am not asking the administration to agree with my pro-life position,” said Angelique Clark, sophomore at West Career and Technical Academy. “I am simply asking the school to give pro-life students at West Career and Technical Academy the opportunity to make our voices heard. We want to discuss our view on an important topic – why choosing life is important. This may be a controversial issue, but that doesn’t mean we should lose our right to free speech.”
“Denying students their right to form a pro-life club on the grounds that it’s ‘too controversial’ and ‘not inclusive’ is an affront to the First Amendment,” said Jocelyn Floyd, Associate Counsel of Thomas More Society. “High school administrators should encourage their students to engage in dialogue on important societal issues, not censor the message simply because there are differing viewpoints.”
As Thomas More Society states in their demand letter, the school’s refusal to allow the Students for Life club constitutes a violation of the students’ rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. All students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political.
Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society request that the principal promptly approve the Students for Life club at West Career and Technical Academy.
Link to the demand letter here: https://www.thomasmoresociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/150521-SFLA-WCTA-Letter-to-Principal-and-Superintendent-Jocelyn-and-Mark-Signature-redacted_Redacted.pdf.
IOWA HIGH SCHOOL DISCRIMINATES AGAINST STUDENTS FOR LIFE CLUB
Principal Steve Madson of Hampton-Dumont High School has received a demand letter from Students for Life of America’s law firm, the Thomas More Society, on behalf of student Isabell Akers and Students for Life of America. The letter charges that Principal Madson has unconstitutionally discriminated against Isabell by denying her the right to form a Students for Life club at Hampton-Dumont High School.
“High school administrators have no right to discriminate against pro-life students,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “On the contrary, high school students have the right to form Students for Life clubs to educate and inform their peers on the tragedy of abortion and to help those facing unplanned, crisis pregnancies. We are thankful for brave students like Isabell, who reached out to Students for Life of America and for our attorneys at the Thomas More Society for their help to make Isabell’s Students for Life group an official, school-based club, with the same rights as her peers.”
Isabell Akers, a senior at Hampton-Dumont High School, attempted to start a Students for Life club when she was a sophomore, but she met resistance from school administrators. After a series of delays and denials, the school eventually allowed Isabell’s club to meet periodically in the spring and fall of 2014, but not to advertise or host events. As Isabell will soon graduate, she tried once again in February to acquire school club status for her Students for Life club, to leave an established club in place for future high school leaders. However, the principal once again denied Isabell’s application, claiming that the Students for Life club is too “controversial.”
“I wanted to spend my high school career educating my fellow students on the beauty of human life and providing resources to girls at my school, but instead I have been fighting for my First Amendment rights,” said Isabell Akers, senior at Hampton-Dumont High School. “By forbidding our Students for Life club from putting up posters and not letting us be included in the yearbook with other clubs, the school administration has been treating us like second-class citizens.”
“The pro-life students are simply asking for equal treatment,” said Jocelyn Floyd, Associate Counsel of Thomas More Society. “Here the school is trying to claim that its lesser treatment is justified because Isabell’s club doesn’t tie in with the school’s curriculum—but neither do most of the school’s other clubs, such as the book club, mock trial, or SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving). By law, Hampton-Dumont High School administrators must give their pro-life students the same opportunities as they give all these other school clubs.”
As Thomas More Society states in their demand letter, the District’s refusal to officially recognize the Students for Life club as a proper student organization constitutes a violation of the students’ rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. All students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political.
Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society request that the principal promptly approve the Students for Life club at Hampton-Dumont High School.