Student group Right to Life sets up anti-abortion banners in Norris


Cameron Cook/Daily Senior Staffer

Four banners placed in the entryway of Norris on Tuesday around noon. Bienen junior Nick Hauger placed them there as part of Northwestern Right to Life’s Fetal Pain Tour.

Ruiqi Chen, Reporter

Around noon on Tuesday, four large banners appeared in the Norris entryway bearing bold headlines and images of fetuses and late-term abortions. Bienen junior Nicholas Hauger, a member of pro-life student group Northwestern Right to Life, had placed them there.

With the help of national organization Students for Life of America, Hauger set up the posters as part of the Fetal Pain Tour, an initiative meant to spark discussion about whether abortion should be legal after a fetus is allegedly able to feel pain.

“This question in particular isn’t necessarily split by party lines,” said Hauger. “Seventy-six percent of people – including pro-choice people – think that abortion should be illegal after the fetus can feel pain.” According to the banners, that would be after week 20 of pregnancy and considered late-term abortion.

Hauger added that the United States is currently one of seven countries in the world that allow late-term abortions. At the same time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website states that in 2014, abortions performed after week 21 accounted for 1.3 percent of all abortions that year.

David Cordaro, Students for Life of America’s regional coordinator, provided the banners for Hauger to use in Norris. His organization, Students for Life of America, supplies student groups with guidance and resources to help spread the pro-life message on college campuses. Cordaro said he believes abortion is a “systemic issue” that he wants to help solve.

“No one wants to have an abortion,” Cordaro said. “They’re a systemic issue that we need to solve in order to empower women to succeed. Yes, as a man, I am never going to personally have an abortion, but abortion does impact men as it impacts women and I want to be a voice for those women and tell them you can do both, you can have your child and… succeed.”

Cordaro added that they have a larger initiative called Pregnant on Campus that aims to connect pregnant students with resources – “financial, monetary, physical, emotional, spiritual, whatever type of support she needs.” However, Students for Life of America does not directly provide any of those resources to pregnant women.

“Our focus is to abolish abortion in our lifetime,” Cordaro said. “That’s our mission, that’s what we want to do. We don’t want to mission creep. Organizations are already there that are (providing these resources). We want to outsource to them and make those organizations more successful where we can just be a link on student campuses helping the students reach those groups.”

Students who saw Hauger and Cordaro’s setup had mixed feelings about the organizations’ message. Weinberg freshman Meredith Gottliebson said it was “wrong” and “inhumane” for Northwestern Right to Life to publicly display the graphic posters.

“If a woman who had had an abortion would see those (images), I think those would be very triggering to her,” said Gottliebson. “It’s abusive almost for them to put those up. I’m just not really sure what they’re trying to accomplish by showing those types of images.”

Communication sophomore Lennart Nielsen felt similarly, though he said he respected the group’s freedom of speech and opinion. He and fellow communication sophomore Jake Anderson said they were mostly caught off guard by the bold placement of the banners in Norris and called the booth “a bold conservative takeover of a university center.”

Weinberg junior Frances Ho said she understood the point of view that Hauger and Cordaro were presenting, but added that the issue of fetal pain was more complicated than the banners claimed.

“We talked about in (my bioethics class) how there are so many different criteria for when a fetus can perceive pain,” she said. “Is it neurological? Is it pain sensors? There are so many different things, and I feel like it should be the mother’s choice to decide what those are.”

Hauger and Cordaro understand the varied reactions to their message, but Hauger said it’s been nice to present an uncommon perspective.

“I’m excited that anything that’s leaning towards pro-life – it’s not even strictly pro-life – is actually out on campus,” said Hauger. “It’s nice to see (a) different voice, and I just hope people can find it in them to have an open mind about this sort of thing and think about these things even if it’s such a touchy subject.”

Northwestern Right to Life plans on hosting more pro-life events in the future, according to president Monica Juarez, including more events on campus as well as service trips and attendance at the March for Life in Washington, DC, next January.

“For the most part we’re pretty unknown on campus,” Juarez told The Daily in an email. “I want campus to know that our group exists and that we have strong pro-life convictions and, more importantly, I want people to know that we want to have open, honest conversations about abortion.”

Alex Wong contributed reporting. 

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