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November 29, 2022

Voice for Life demonstrates against post-rape abortions

By ASHLEY EMERY | September 18, 2014

Voice for Life (VFL) hosted the We Care Tour, a campaign sponsored by its national umbrella organization Students for Life, on the Keyser Quad on Wednesday.

The program consisted of displays, one with information about sexual assault and another opposing the abortions of pregnancies caused by rape.

“The purpose of the We Care tour is to open up meaningful dialogue on the topic of sexual assault, to combat the myth that [the] pro-life movement does not care about women and to help those victims of sexual assault... avoid the further pain of abortion,” Jessica Janneck wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “The answer to the violence of sexual assault is not the violence of abortion.”

Voice For Life also used the display to promote their new resource website, PregnantAtJHU.org, which offers anonymous online counseling as well as information about resources for student-parents, including adoption services and parenting classes.

“We acknowledge that being a student-parent is difficult,” Janneck wrote. “We want to support pregnant or parenting students as much as we can, from the pregnancy test, to birth and beyond.”

The former VFL President, Andrew Guernsey, said that the We Care Tour campaign aims to show that the pro-life movement supports women who have been sexually assaulted.

“We want to show that we care about women too,” Guernsey said. “We want to help women make a non-violent choice and encourage other choices that consider that there is a third party involved with a pregnancy resulting from rape.”

The We Care Tour program posed ethical questions regarding abortion by equating aborting an unborn fetus to murdering a two-year-old child.

“If a rape survivor courageously chose to parent her child who was conceived during rape and, [when the child was] 2 years old, decided her son painfully looked like her rapist, would she be justified in killing her toddler son?” a poster in the display read.

VFL members argued that an ethical distinction between abortion and killing a two-year-old does not exist.

Meanwhile, representatives from Voice for Choice (VFC) expressed disappointment with the VFL program due to the lack of trigger warnings, and they condemned the program for negatively contributing to a victim-blaming culture.

“At first sight, the display looked liked it would address sexual assault, a real problem on campus, but I’m not pleased with the display as it addressed rape and sexual assault in a very triggering manner,” Vinitha Kumar, the president of VFC, said.

Kumar criticized the display for stigmatizing abortion as violent.

“When you term abortion as a violent option, it is ignorant to the complex circumstances that surround rape and sexual assault,” Kumar said. “While I’m okay with the display addressing consent, comparing an abortion to killing a two-year-old toddler is wrong.”

Kumar also raised issue with the display assuming that all sexual assault is male to female and ignoring many other cases. She said that the program lacked in providing appropriate resources regarding reproductive health.

Christine Fei, the co-chair of the events committee for the Sexual Assault Resource Unit (SARU), expressed anguish over the lack of advance warning about the display.

“This event should have had a lot more warnings around it, especially trigger warnings for people who were just passing by,” Fei said.

Fei also said that she felt the display’s content was insensitive to survivors of sexual assault. She said that members of SARU, who were recruiting members on the Breezeway, comforted several people who were emotionally distraught after walking by the display.

“They should have [developed] some sort of way to deal with people who are emotionally distraught or who are triggered or affected [by the display],” Fei said.

“The only thing that they have for people who are actually survivors is the RAINN website, which is a great resource, [but] I think it’s mindboggling that they think that having one website [listed in the display] is sufficient to support survivors.”

Michele Hendrickson, the Capitol Area regional coordinator of Students for Life, defended the display.

“People assume [pro-life activists] don’t care about women, which isn’t true,” Hendrickson said.

To counter the We Care Tour’s program, VFC will hold an event today on the Breezeway that focuses on distributing resources and information regarding reproductive health, emphasizing their slogan of “safety not stigma.”

 

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