Voice for Choice rises as a campus movement

Voice for Choice, a bipartisan, pro-choice movement on campus, has formed in response to the new presence of the student pro-life club, Voice for Life.

Though Voice for Choice is not an official club on campus, it is the de facto Hopkins pro-choice group that will seek club status in the future. It aims to promote female reproductive choice.

Voice for Choice is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students. Spearheading the undergraduate contingency is senior Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner.

“We want to educate this community on the fact that this debate concerns a woman choosing whether an abortion is the right medical decision for her. We also want to raise awareness about any anti-choice harassment that may occur on campus,” Fuchs-Rosner said.

The ultimate goal of the movement is to eliminate harassment on campus. Voice for Choice takes issue with Voice for Life’s club activities, including sidewalk counseling and approaching pregnant women.

“The problem is not that they want to express their views, but that they want to use harassing tactics,” Fuchs-Rosner said. “The tactics they want to use could be triggering for rape victims, but the administration did not do anything about that.”

She believes that Voice for Life’s activities will harass legally protected classes of people — women and pregnant women.

On Friday, April 12, Fuchs-Rosner and senior Sophie Grossman staged the first manifestation of the movement in a display entitled “Tits at 12.”

They were inspired by FEMEN’s topless protests, as the students decided to expose their torso and breasts.

The message “Your Body, Your Choice” was written across the front of their bodies. The message “JHU steps on women for $” was written on their backs.

Fuchs-Rosner explained her reasoning behind the message on their backs.

“We believe the school was facing legal pressure and financial pressure. The University administration stepped on women, completely disregarded this legally protected group of people because of financial concern,” Fuchs-Rosner said. “We believe that certain members of the administration coerced the Judiciary to vote in favor of Voice for Life.”

Fuchs-Rosner asserted that their display did not interfere with the campus community as Voice for Life’s activities would.

“There is a difference between female breasts and pictures of fetuses that are meant to intimidate women about a very personal decision that involves personal factors like age, finance and family. The display of a female body is not the same thing as interfering aggressively with someone’s personal choice.”

“Hopkins has been very sensitive to legally protected classes of people; certainly racial and ethnic minorities fall into this category. Women and pregnant women do too,” Fuchs-Rosner said. “Their activities shame women because they actively approach women, and that constitutes harassment.”

Fuchs-Rosner cited the 2006 case in which the Sigma Chi fraternity was placed on social probation after the Student Conduct Board investigated allegations that the fraternity issued a racially-charged party invitation.

“When Sigma Chi did their ‘Halloween in the Hood’ party, the school was very quick to protect racial minorities, but they don’t protect other legally protected classes such as women and pregnant women. Voice for Life’s acceptance jeopardizes women in that regard.”

Andrew Guernsey, President of Voice for Life, encourages the new pro-choice movement’s presence.

“We look forward to a discussion and a dialogue between both sides of the abortion issue,” he said. “We definitely support the right to exist of a pro-choice group on campus.”


5 Responses to "Voice for Choice rises as a campus movement"

  1. alumna   April 18, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Hallo newsletter,
    Thanks for your article, but you left out *why* we think VFL’s activities are harassment. The public needs to know that. Stigmatizing abortion by comparing it to infanticide (the VFL facebook page refers to ‘abortionists…slaughtering precious, innocent little babies’) and asserting in their mission statement that they want to build a ‘cemetery of innocents’ on Homewood (to mourn like people the fetuses that women ‘slaughtered’ by having abortions)…all these are activities that villify women who have abortions, and make them out to be murderers. No group should be villified and have it said OR implied of them that they are murderers by a *school-sponsored* group. In addition to harassing women, this group also slanders and defames abortion providers at Hopkins (Yes, we have those. Bayview has a program.) creating a harrowing work-environment for them.

    Furthermore, VFL promotes (and plans to volunteer at) Crisis pregnancy centers that lie to women about the risks of abortion. This could cause serious physical harm to women who go to these centers and then refrain from potentially medically necessary abortions for fear of non-existent side-effects. The undergraduate student conduct code prohibits students approaching people and doing things that ’cause or can be reasonably expected to cause physical harm’, and spreading medical misinformation is probably the best way to hurt someone.

    We respect VFL’s right to free speech. We are not trying to ban them from campus. But *Johns Hopkins should not continue to sponsor lies and harassment*, and the false conflation of free speech with university recognition and sponsorship and the ability to apply for university grants needs to end.

  2. alumna   April 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Note: All the information about VFL in my comment above was taken from their mission statement on wordpress, and their facebook page.

  3. Maxwell J. Collard   April 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I have no problem with a pro-choice group being on campus—I support a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy, if she deems it absolutely necessary—but I take issue with most of the material that I have seen come out of the Voice for Choice camp. It seems like the group’s primary aim is to complain about hypothetical actions that Voice for Life hasn’t actually taken yet, to posit unsubstantiated claims about impropriety on the part of the institution, and generally escalate the situation. If Voice for Choice wants to really make a difference, they should cool their heads: engage in constructive, educational outreach. Sponsor rational debate on the subject. Maybe co-host a speaker panel with Voice for Life.

    It is never wise to fight fire with fire.

    (Also, to alumna: the University recognizing a club as official does not mean that the University *sponsors* or *endorses* that viewpoint. If that were the case, then how, may I ask, would it be possible for JHU to have College Democrats *and* College Republicans *and* College Independents? Which viewpoint does the university endorse? Answer: none of them.)

  4. LW   May 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Voice for Choice seems to have a very poor understanding of the law and the principles of free speech.

  5. Pingback: Pro-Choice Group Tries to Silence Pro-Life Students

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