Tulane’s Right to Life club holds anti-abortion demonstration

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Hannah Levitan

The anti-abortion art installation on campus.

Olivia Warren, Staff Reporter

On April 12, Tulane University’s Right to Life club held a demonstration on the Academic Quad protesting abortion-access laws. 

The demonstration, called “They’re Human, Too,” included a large art installation of detailed drawings of fetuses being aborted by a doctor’s hand holding surgical tools, celebrities who were adopted, anti-abortion rhetoric and resources for pregnant women outside of seeking abortions, including “abortion pill reversals.” The exhibit was created by Louisiana Right to Life, an anti-abortion advocacy group.

The group declined to comment at the event, but in a later email they said the purpose of the exhibit was to ask questions that are rarely asked on college campuses: “what really is abortion, who does it concern, and is it ever necessary.”

“We wanted to have conversations with our peers, educate them on different perspectives and facts and voice our support for life at all stages,” the group said. 

A small group of counter-protesters responded to the demonstration by gathering around with signs that included the statements “abortion saves lives” and “abortion is healthcare.” 

The counter-protesters said that they were not affiliated with any student organization and gathered there spontaneously.

Rory MacDonald, a freshman at Tulane, came with his friends to protest the anti-abortion exhibit. MacDonald said that Tulane should not have allowed the exhibit to occur. 

“Having an abortion is a very difficult process for women, and on a campus that has such a virulent problem with sexual violence,” MacDonald said. “It seems like it is really an offensive and potentially very harmful exhibit to students on Tulane’s campus who may have had an abortion [or] who may have had to consider having an abortion.”

Fellow Tulane freshman Maya Sanchez said she agreed with MacDonald. She said she was protesting in hopes that the Right to Life club would end their exhibit, saying it “is violent to students on campus.”

The Right to Life demonstration also included a large piece of paper titled the “Free Speech Wall,” where passersby could write whatever they wanted on the poster. 

The poster contained a variety of statements, some agreeing with the demonstration, others against it and some trying to lighten the mood. 

On WaveSync, Tulane’s extracurricular website, the Right to Life club states, “with a fundamental message of love and acceptance, TURTL accomplishes this goal through conversation and education on Tulane’s campus as well as through grassroots outreach in the New Orleans community.”

The demonstration attempted to show the diversity of the pro-life movement by using Black icons and characters in their art, such as Nelson Mandela, Colin Kaepernick, Jamie Foxx and Keegan-Michael Key. These were Black celebrities who were adopted but have not voiced public support for anti-abortion movements. Key retweeted a pro-choice tweet on October 28, 2020.

Freshman Gaby Moenter also came to protest the exhibit “to spread better information and to actually empower people because abortion is a right and because this thing is silencing people,” she said.

“We recognize that the exhibit demonstrated heavy and emotional content,” the email from Right to Life said. “However, we wanted this to be a positive and informative experience rather than an intimidating or shameful one … In many ways, the exhibit served its purpose in opening conversation and sparking debate. We hope that students will continue being open to dialogue.”

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