Lakhiani: Recognition of Case for Life endangers other students

Karuna Lakhiani, Staff Columnist

On Nov. 2, Vice President for Student Affairs Lou Stark sent a message to the undergraduate students of Case Western Reserve University. That message stated that Case for Life (CFL), a pro-life/anti-abortion organization, will be recognized as an official campus group by the Division of Student Affairs. Stark said that “because this denial of recognition violates university policy,” CWRU has no right to not recognize CFL as an official campus group.

Stark quoted CWRU’s Freedom of Expression policy, which includes, “while all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect and intellectual honesty, concerns about civility and mutual respect should not be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas,” and “… it is not the proper role of the University to exclude or suppress those ideas some may find unwelcome, disagreeable or even offensive.”

I ultimately agree with the Freedom of Expression policy that it is not okay to suppress certain opinions; however, let’s not forget what this group stands for and what it is capable of. CFL is part of a movement that bases its agenda on Christian reasoning and tries to influence young minds to be pro-life by guilt-tripping them and spreading hateful viewpoints. The movement also constantly attacks Planned Parenthood, spreads lies about the organization and sprouts a lot of false facts. And yes, none of this is technically illegal, despite it being morally wrong; however, not recognizing CFL as an official campus group isn’t just about the suppression of opinion, but rather the protection of the student body, especially its women.

Stark stated, “the organization’s messages and vigils could upset some students—even to the point where they might choose not to access health care. While I have great empathy for those who might experience such emotions, this interpretation of the policy is nevertheless inaccurate.” Stark is basically saying that if the actions of CFL prevents students from accessing medical care, their feelings are irrelevant since CFL doesn’t violate university policy.

The policy also states, “CWRU fully respects and supports the freedom of all members of the CWRU community to engage in expressive activities, as such activities are vital to the purposes of the University.” However, expressive activities should not be allowed at the cost of other students’ safety and well-being. There is nothing concrete preventing CFL from deliberately misinforming the student body, including at medical facilities that CWRU students rely on for healthcare.

There is a difference between the expression of opinion that might be offensive and actions that are hateful or hurtful towards the rest of the student body. Allowing CFL to be recognized not only puts students in danger in the future, but also dismisses the feelings of every single person who has experience with abortion. Victims of sexual assault, women who needed an abortion because their life was in danger and others shouldn’t be shamed for their decision, yet this group will do exactly that. Members of the “community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect and intellectual honesty,” yet how does CFL foster that environment? There will be little to no respect or intellectual honesty on CFL’s part because of the actions they might take and lies they may spread.

CFL has the right to express their opinions, but do they have the right to take actions that are harmful to CWRU’s community? No, they do not.

Let’s also not forget that CFL is infringing on our rights with their opinion of what others should do with their own bodies. Just a reminder that pro-choice does not mean you want an abortion for yourself or even others. Rather, you think it’s a women’s right to choose: my body, my choice. What CFL stands for is forced birth.

CWRU’s response—or rather lack thereof—to the concerns of students who experience sexual assault is a previous example of the university’s failure to care about students. We’ve also seen countless times where CWRU has prioritized publicity and money over its students, so it doesn’t surprise me that the university isn’t willing to take necessary action to protect its students on this issue. The official recognition of Case for Life endangers the well-being and lives of too many individuals in the CWRU community.

Correction: This article originally described CFL as a chapter of Students for Life. This is not the case. CFL completely dissociated from Students for Life in the spring, receives no funding or resources from Students for Life and has no communication with them. The Observer apologizes for this mistake.