Pro-life students at Ohio University muzzled; signs destroyed by masked assailants with clubs

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Students for Life/Cycle of Corruption Campaign

ATHENS, Ohio (Christian Examiner) – A group of pro-life students challenging the connection between Planned Parenthood and the Democrat Party was told by an Ohio University staffer their organization cannot distribute literature to other students on the campus commons area, but instead must remain behind their table or risk trouble with the authorities for "solicitation."

According to a statement from Students for Life (SFL), its members – all students at the university – were on campus distributing postcards related to its Cycle of Corruption campaign when they were told their actions violated university policies. Members of the pro-life group said they believed they had a right to distribute literature and would be contacting their attorney.

In the campaign put forth by the SFL, the group chronicles how federal funding for Planned Parenthood increased by nearly 65 percent to nearly $554 million annually since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest and most vociferous abortion mill.

Of the money given to the abortion provider by taxpayers, the student group claims, it has returned nearly $3 million in cash and another $11 million in "in-kind donations" to politicians – 98.7 percent of which were Democrats. As a result, the Democratic National Committee, formerly chaired by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, built into the DNC platform some of the most extreme abortion positions ever seen (including free abortion services).

Planned Parenthood also announced it will offer voter registration services to the women who utilize their clinical services.

This is the second time the SFL protestors have been confronted in a week. Last week, masked protestors attempted to demolish the signs posted by the group. One or more of the assailants carried a club of some sort.

Whether or not the pro-life students can place anti-abortion and even anti-Democrat literature in the hands of other students is a matter that may already be settled. Earlier this year, a Christian student organization at North Carolina State University sued the school for violating its members' right to speak openly about their faith anywhere on campus.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina April 26, the members of Grace Christian Life claimed that it is a registered student organization on the campus, but that it is forced to seek approval from university administrators before it can have open and frank discussions about religion with other students. It also said its members could only speak from confined areas (such as behind a table).

A federal judge ruled in July that NC State had erred and students, in fact, do not need a permit before expressing themselves either verbally or in writing.

At Ohio University, SFL organizers ignored orders to cease the distribution of postcards in spite of the fact they were warned three times.

Jacob Hoback, president of the Ohio University's SFL chapter, said his group would not be silenced as long as the unborn are silenced.

During the videotaped encounter between SFL protestors and the school official, the official said it was acceptable for SFL members to stand behind the table and smile. Interacting with students outside of the confined area, however, could be perceived as a violation of the school's policy.

"[Soliciting is] going out to someone without them kind of coming to your table," the staff member told the group. He also said if SFL protestors did not leave, they would have to answer to campus police. Both sides then agreed to disengage.

OU's communications director, Carly Glick, said the SFL group had been treated like every other student group that wanted to host a space in the same area. She also said the rules were clear and students "understood the limitations associated with this reserved space." No group, she said, may distribute literature in the location where the SFL group was because of the small ingress and egress space there.

However, it is unclear why SFL members were told to move behind their table when other groups were allowed to mingle with passing students.