Miami Hamilton's 'Pro-Life' Display Does More Harm Than Good
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Miami Hamilton's 'Pro-Life' Display Does More Harm Than Good

Where is the line between free speech and student detriment?

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Miami Hamilton's 'Pro-Life' Display Does More Harm Than Good
@muh_sfl / Instagram

On Monday, April 9, at Miami University Hamilton, the pro-life group Students For Life erected a display depicting a group of crosses, each representing babies that are “killed by abortion every day.”

The number was outdated and misleading, and no sources were cited. I assume that this data comes from a CDC study done in 2014, but doctors and scientists still have yet to come to a consensus on when a bundle of cells actually turns into a human being.

While everyone at Miami University has a right to voice their opinions via the First Amendment, this display was triggering to many students and affected their ability to perform at school. One of these students was kind enough to discuss her distress upon seeing this display with me.

“How could they shame young women trying their best to get an education? I started having panic attacks thinking about my loss and thinking of walking onto campus with big bold letters talking about ‘murder’ and crosses representing incorrect statistics about a woman’s choice.”

This student eventually chose to leave the university for the semester because of the trauma that this display brought up for her.

“I want to walk onto campus and not be afraid. I know pro-life people are not ones to put themselves in other people’s shoes often, but if they step outside of shaming women, can they look at my story and feel a little ashamed?”

Last year, the Students for Life went as far as to press charges against Miami University for “violating their First Amendment right of free speech.” The lawsuit was funded by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT group, and cost the school more than $20,000 in a settlement. Students for Life argued that by being asked to put up trigger warnings ahead of their display, the university violated their rights.

“Trigger warnings” warn people who may be sensitive to certain subjects that upsetting content will be shown or displayed soon. Whether or not you agree with it, the choice to end a pregnancy is a hard one for anyone to make. Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) is a disorder similar to PTSD with similar side effects. People who have had abortions may suffer from anxiety, depression, numbness, flashbacks and suicidal thoughts. Abortions that have happened after a rape can be even more traumatic for people, as PTSD from the assault may be combined with PASS.

Any of these symptoms may be triggered by a display like this one, which is why we need warnings to protect our students. These choices are tough for anyone to make, and this display serves no other purpose than to shame people who are trying to make the best decisions for them and their futures. This isn’t something that we need on a campus that preaches “love and honor.”

Another student group on campus, College Students for Reproductive Justice, tried to set up a counter-display. The university vetoed the display and told the group that they could not put up a display until the crosses were removed. The students put up a display of coat hangers to represent how many unsafe abortions are performed yearly.

I’m not saying that the Students for Life do not have a right to put up their displays, but why is a trigger warning such a terrible thing? Clearly, this upsets many students, and the roadblocks that the opposition had to go through to make their voices heard just makes students feel more powerless and shamed.

While the display is gone for now, displays like this go up every year all over the country. It’s time to start talking about how these do more harm than good and educate people on reproductive health and justice.

Students for Life at Miami Hamilton declined to comment.

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