By Sarah Ahmed
On Monday, student activists at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) disrupted an anti-abortion event held on campus. The students, a majority of whom were women, demanded that the University of Pittsburgh stop allowing crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) and other anti-women organizations to promote themselves and hold events on campus.
The anti-abortion event, called the “Stop Aborted Fetal Experiments” conference, spread lies about stem cell research using biological material from abortions. The event was organized by Lucia Hunt of Franciscan University and hosted by Students for Life, an anti-abortion non-profit that frequently sues schools to allow their chapters to organize on campus. A student anti-abortion organization, Choose Life at Pitt, also endorsed the event.
The event welcomed members of the nearby crisis pregnancy center, Women’s Choice Network. According to one student activist, Students for Life and Women’s Choice Network both work closely with the university administration, which allows them to promote anti-abortion propaganda to students. In October, a group of activists and students at the University of Pittsburgh protested against the Women’s Choice Network tabling at a health fair on campus.
Crisis pregnancy centers, found in states across the country, use dishonest language in their advertising that mislead poor and working class women into thinking these centers offer reproductive health care, when in reality they only offer reactionary ‘counseling’ intended to dissuade women from seeking abortion services. CPCs in Pennsylvania were provided funding by state House Bill 1348, which was supported by both Republicans and Democrats, including mayor-elect Ed Gainey when he was in the state House of Representatives.
Activists disrupted the event during the speech of Justin Butterfield, who works with the reactionary organization First Liberty. Butterfield was the senior advisor for ‘conscience and religious freedom’ at the US Department of Health and Human Resources under the Trump Administration.
During the action, activists carried banners reading, “The University of Pittsburgh supports fake abortion clinics,” and “Fake abortion clinics are an attack on working women! Fight to remove all CPCs from our neighborhoods!”
Several anti-abortion conference attendees confronted the activists, and one reactionary attempted to seize a banner, but the women activists successfully defended themselves from the assault.
Activists seized the notes and promotional materials from the reactionary speakers and chanted, “Working women give them hell, It is right to rebel!” Several conference attendees left the event after the disruption.
One activist who participated in the disruption told Tribune: “The fact that Pitt allows these people to rent a ballroom at their university exposes their liberalism, which only serves the interests of the ruling class and not women students on campus or women in the community. The university only has an interest in attacking the abortion rights of poor and working women, just like the Democratic [Party] representatives who vote yes on the bill to fund fake clinics.”