Daily Dispatches
Bama Students for Life display.
Photo via Facebook
Bama Students for Life display.

Bama backs down censorship of pro-life display

Religious Liberty

A University of Alabama administrator apologized Monday for removing a pro-life display from the school’s student center and said the pro-life student group would be allowed to put it back up.

The Bama Students for Life (BSL) display featured the phrase, “Abortion—not safe—not rare—just legal,” on a yellow, three-sided poster board. Surrounded by baby booties, the exhibit reported facts about the consequences of abortion, including that “abortion has killed enough people to fill Bryant Denny Stadium 550 times.” Bryant-Denny Stadium is the university’s football stadium, which has a spectator capacity of almost 102,000. The board also had photos of women who died after having abortions, two small pictures of aborted babies, and a photo of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of first-degree murder for killing babies born alive.

The group discovered their exhibit had disappeared two days before their one-month time slot for displaying posters was over. Claire Chretien, president of BSL, confronted the student union’s event coordinator about the display’s removal, secretly videotaping the conversation. On the video, the coordinator said she previously warned BSL that if she received a complaint about the display she would remove it, and someone had complained about the “dead babies and dead person.”

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Chretien acknowledged the photos were sad, but asked what display guideline had been violated.

“No offensive or graphic material [is allowed],” the coordinator said. “You guys were lucky to get it up there as long as you did. … The student union is for all students. So we have to keep it happy for everybody.”

“Except us,” Chretien replied.

The university’s display case policy mentions nothing about offensive or graphic materials. In a letter to Carl Bacon, director of the student union, BSL said the school was censoring free speech, as other student displays regularly present controversial ideas.

“The Ferguson Center permits all kinds of speech by other students and student groups that many people would find ‘offensive’ or ‘graphic,’” BSL wrote in its letter. “For example, on one bulletin board is an ad for the UA Theatre & Dance program’s presentation of ‘Blood Wedding.’ The poster states that the event is ‘For Mature Audiences’ and features blood stained glass superimposed on a picture of a bride and groom. A few months ago the Ferguson Center Art Gallery displayed student artwork and one painting showed male full frontal nudity.”

Chretien received an email from Bacon on Monday which stated, “Please accept my apology that your display was removed without your knowledge two days before your reserved time expired.” Bacon allowed BSL to put the display back up for two days.

“Bama Students for Life is very grateful to The University of Alabama for correcting this injustice,” Chretien said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the University was so willing to right this wrong so that all students will be able to continue exercising our free speech rights.”

Sarah Padbury
Sarah Padbury

Sarah is a writer, editor, and adoption advocate. She and her husband live with their six teenagers in Castle Rock, Colo.

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