An anti-abortion group at Johns Hopkins has gained status as an official campus organization, meaning it could receive school funding. Considering the group's potentially harmful practices and protests, it is important to ensure that "Voice for Life" represents the university appropriately.
Just last month, Johns Hopkins denied the group official privileges at the university — which includes listings in all university publications, websites, and on-campus fundraising opportunities — but Wednesday's unanimous vote by the Student Government Association's Judiciary Committee overturned this decision.
Some believe that Senator Rick Santorum's recent visit to the university had something to do with the decision. Santorum, known in the women's health circuit for his militant anti-abortion views, may have spurred students to action as his politically-motivated speech turned to pro-life activism.
"The vast majority of people who are pro-life are pro-life because they know something scientifically," he said. He also trivialized women's right to choose by asserting that people who get abortions only do it because they are under pressure by doctors who perform the procedure.
On the subject, he concluded, "I think [abortion] is wrong because I believe in human rights, not because I am a Catholic."
This is a debatable statement for anti-abortion activists. Voice for Life conducts protests that involve harassing people outside clinics that provide abortions under the guise of "saving lives," which opponents believe violates the university's Code of Conduct policy.
Interestingly, the student government group that voted against Voice for Life's status as a campus organization held this view, too, until today. While it cited the school's anti-harassment policy in its last vote, no explanation was offered upon granting the group on-campus privileges.
"I am disappointed, because I really had faith in my university, that our administration takes care of our students before it considers its image," said Caitlin Fuchs-Rosner, a university senior who helped build a network of students and alumni to oppose the group. "I always expected that my administrators, my university would take care of me as a student, as a woman."
Fuchs-Rosner plans to assemble like-minded individuals for a demonstration during Friday's annual Spring Fair. She and friends will hand out condoms and promote pro-choice messages such as "My body, my choice," while preparing a statement for the student government to restrict clubs that provide medical misinformation.
"No one has the power to tell this group not to speak about its views," she added. "No one is going to do that. The issue in contention is whether this group should get money."
Hopefully, Fuchs-Rosner and her group will continue objectively pointing out Voice for Life's dangerous shortcomings, while potentially bringing back Johns Hopkins' now-defunct pro-choice advocacy group. Walking up to clinic patients to lie to them about their bodies should not be tolerated, much less by the university that funds them.