Pro-life banners damage university image

Earlier this month, USC Students for Life displayed multiple banners featuring jumbo-sized photos of pregnant women and fetuses. On Trousdale Parkway lamp posts, the banners presented quotes praising “life” and facts about fetal development. This display from USC Students for Life was a propaganda dream. With official banners lining the university’s main causeway, not only was the message getting out, but it appeared to be a USC-sponsored cause.

Just a few hours after they were put up, the banners were taken down, but not before they were seen by hundreds of students on their way to and from morning classes. Allowing this display on campus, even for a brief period of time, was damaging, and the university must ensure that the mistake that allowed propaganda of this nature will not happen again.

After the removal of these posters, USC Students for Life argued that the university suppressed the group’s free speech. They are incorrect. USC Students for Life are permitted to spread their anti-abortion message literally anywhere else on campus. This is not systematic discrimination against them; it was just deemed inappropriate that a highly contentious issue was broadcast in an official manner in a location that usually features USC spirit banners.

Of course, the burning question that lingers in the minds of the pro-life students who organized this campaign is not really why their free speech was limited. It is actually more about why the banners were  not deemed inappropriate in the first place.

Three-foot high banners with photos of fetuses, quotes implying that these fetuses are beautiful and special, and factoids that try to humanize a developing fetus are all emotionally manipulative ploys to guilt women into having children that they might not be emotionally, physically or financially ready for — and that they may not want.

The banners preach views entrenched in a narrow religious ideology and negate the idea that a woman’s mental, physical and financial health has value by asserting that giving birth is the most beautiful thing a woman can do.

None of the factoids expressed the variety of physical dangers involved with giving birth, including maternal death. These banners do not tell women that up to 80 percent of new mothers experience mood swings or feelings of depression after childbirth. They do not mention that 10 to 20 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression. There is no mention of birth-related post-traumatic stress disorder or postpartum psychosis, or the less dramatic, but equally important consideration of the financial struggle related to raising children.

The decision to have a child is arguably the most important decision a woman will ever have to make. This decision is even harder when the woman is a college student who might desire a child but lacks the resources to care for it. These decisions should not be influenced by a selection of intimidating images.

Though activist students made sure that the offensive material was taken down in little time, spreading a message that potentially isolates and demonizes students who choose to make difficult decisions about their own lives and bodies is inexcusable.

Trojan Events and Services needs to be more careful in its process of approving installations to ensure that no political ideology appears to be endorsed by the university ever again.

7 replies
  1. deldern
    deldern says:

    What a complete crock of sh$t this is! Sarah Green you are an example of the profound intolerance of the left. You cite “mood swings” and “financial health” as legitimate reasons for taking the life of one’s own child! You state that pro-lifers tried to “humanize” a human fetus…what do you think it is if not human? What the hell is the value of a USC education if it turns out bigoted nutcases like you? You are a prime example of the fascist groupthink that has turned the Democratic party into something unrecognizable from its original ideology. If you want to exercise control over your body you need to start way before you get pregnant. Try using birth control or just saying no. I realize the latter option may not be acceptable to someone who thinks that every hedonistic pleasure is her absolute constitutional right. One right you don’t have is the right to censor those whose beliefs are different from yours.

  2. Arafat
    Arafat says:

    Typical liberal mindset. Deny the right for others to express opposing opinions.
    Liberals: Today’s thought police. Dictating to us what is right or wrong. The very definition of illiberal!

  3. Steve
    Steve says:

    Pro-Life views are not “views entrenched in a narrow religious ideology.” The entire debate surrounding abortion is one that is based on ethics. Both sides, for and against, come to their conclusions based on ethical ideas about when, as a society, we decide if the rights of a mother or the rights of a child are more important. To belittle the issue as just some Jesus freaks ranting and raving on campus, the author is showing a deep, deep misunderstanding of not only the pro-life movement’s platform but also the fundamental questions at the heart of the abortion debate.

    One of my GEs as USC (I think moral and social issues?) would probably be a good course selection for the author. The fact the author even brought up postpartum depression rates as a rational argument for abortion rights is bizarre and troubling. For a school of USC’s caliber, there has to be someone more qualified to write about the complexities of social justice issues on the DT staff.

  4. Matthew
    Matthew says:

    Good one DT, but please leave the satires to The Onion and Duffel Blog…also apparently Alexander Starovoitov, a MP in the Russian Assembly, recently called for the government to protest Apple’s “gay propaganda” to Russian youths, pointing to the free U2 albums for download. You should be more careful with the word propaganda. It makes you sound like an angsty teen. Or a Fox News anchor arguing climate change.

  5. Joey
    Joey says:

    “… it was just deemed inappropriate that a highly contentious issue was broadcast in an official manner in a location that usually features USC spirit banners.”

    Funny, that didn’t seem to be a problem with those rainbow flag banners they put up in the exact same location.

    “None of the factoids expressed the variety of physical dangers involved with giving birth…”

    Let’s stick with the same-sex marriage comparison. Would you demand that messages supporting same-sex marriage acknowledge statistics about the rates of things like HIV/AIDS, abuse, and infidelity among same-sex couples? Such statistics are about as relevant to the same-sex marriage debate as statistics on post-partum depression and the financial requirements of having a child are to the abortion debate, which is to say not very.

    Bottom line is that facts, as John Adams said, are stubborn things. They don’t change. But different facts can be used in different ways to support different sides of the same issue. Citing facts that support your argument isn’t “propaganda,” it’s called making your case. And images of fetuses with factoids about fetal development aren’t any more “emotionally manipulative” than, say, a warm and fuzzy image of a same-sex family or a terrifying image of a lifelong smoker with a stoma.

    It’s bad enough that you conveniently glossed over the real issue of university administrators seemingly picking and choosing which “contentious issues” (and, more importantly, which sides of these contentious issues) get to have a banner on campus. But your insistence on twisting something that was clearly meant to be a positive presentation of the pro-life argument into something that “emotionally manipulates” and “demonizes” is what really bothers me. If the banners had depicted, say, gruesome images of aborted fetuses, I’d be inclined to agree with you. But you’re this pissed off at pictures of healthy unborn children? I’m ashamed to call you a fellow Trojan.

  6. ConcernedTrojan
    ConcernedTrojan says:

    This is one of the most baseless articles I have ever read on the DT. What does maternal health have anything to do with the banners? And, with your logic that nothing that promotes a propaganda shouldn’t be put up means that the LGBTQ Center should also not be allowed to post up their annual rainbow banners also. Finally, there was/is nothing damaging to the school about having banners like this up. This is a school with students from every cultural and moral background. This is a school that supports discussion and dialogue. You just want this school to be another Berkeley where no side other than the extreme liberal one is heard.

  7. John
    John says:

    First, the banners did not damage the university image at all. Second, the banners were not officially endorsed. Third, having a different opinion than the author of this article (pro-life vs pro-choice) does not make their banners propaganda. Stop victimizing the pro-life group just because they view it differently and just because a poster does not mention maternal health, does not mean the pro-life group does not consider that concern when they decide to be pro-life. You simplified a complex argument with strong points on both sides down to a simple black and white verdict, which is completely inaccurate and baseless. There is nothing wrong with choosing pro-life or pro-choice. I am pro-life and that is a personal decision of mine.

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