Editor’s note, April 21, 12:34 a.m.: This story has been updated throughout.
Mustangs for Life has responded to the opposition of their “Memorial of Innocents.” The response video argues that “Pro-Life is Pro-Woman.”
Update on April 19, 11:38 a.m.
The “Memorial of Innocents” display has sparked a strong response of opposition by various students on campus.
The SMU Women’s Interest Network (WIN), along with other campus groups, is planning to stage a counter-display on Dallas Hall Lawn of the argument Monday. WIN President Adé Guobadia said she met with Luz Hernandez of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas yesterday to discuss strategies for the counter protest.
Individual students are also turning to social media to share their opinions of “Memorial of Innocents.” SMU student Carson Wright posted this video on Facebook in response to the display:
“The anti-choice display on SMU’s Dallas Hall lawn is severely misguided,” Wright wrote on his Facebook page. “A group on campus wants to talk to us about abortion — so, let’s talk. They’re welcome to practice free speech on this campus, and so are we. Make a counterargument.”
As of noon April 19, the video was shared and liked over 300 times. It has more than 38,000 views.
Original Article posted April 18 7:53 p.m.
Mustangs for Life set up an art display of over 2,000 crosses on Dallas Hall Lawn as a “Memorial of Innocents” Monday, April 17. The group says each cross represents an abortion performed in the United States during a single day.
Two students vandalized the display after it was set up later that night. Police stopped them and asked if they were supposed to be there, to which the students responded “yes.”
Thirty Mustangs for Life volunteers showed up Monday at 6 a.m. to set the display back up again, according to Catholic campus minister Cody Barras.
Mustangs for Life is a non-religiously affiliated student organization that “honors the dignity of every human life by being a positive source of education, love and service to inspire a culture of life on SMU’s campus,” according to their website.
“Our motivation behind ‘Memorial of Innocents’ was firstly to remember the 2,904 children who are killed every day. We believe these children deserve to be remembered,” Camille McCarty, president of Mustangs for Life, said. “Another purpose is to raise awareness, to make people realize the gravity of their action and inaction. We want people to think. These are individual people we are killing and they cannot be ignored.”
The display has sparked inevitable dialogue on campus.
Sophomore Jessica Jancose is frustrated with the display as she thinks it oversimplifies the issue of pro-life.
“It takes work to really understand the issue of abortion and access to reproductive care for a lot of women,” Jancose said. “It’s not just an issue of religion it’s also an issue of systemic poverty, systemic racism, socioeconomic class; a lot of women don’t have access to information about sex education. How can you even expect women to avoid pregnancy in the first place if they’re not even being taught practices to prevent pregnancies?”
Jancose also doesn’t agree with the use of crosses to represent a life.
“A cross is not necessarily representative of a life. What if a mother is Muslim or what if she is Atheist?”Jancose said.
Jancose said that abortions are going to happen whether they are legal or not.
“Access to abortion doesn’t get rid of abortion. Abortions will occur no matter what, it’s just a matter of how safe they are,” Jancose said.
But Jancose sees that the display has started an important dialogue on campus.
“I recognize and respect the right to free speech. I have noticed that this display has sparked a lot of dialogue,” Jancose said. “I was just walking to the library and I overheard two people talking about how a woman’s right to choose should be allowed.”
McCarty also recognizes the controversy “Memorial of Innocents” has started, but believes it is a necessary part in raising awareness.
“I have seen some signs about the number of women raped every day that have been placed on our display. That is also a horrible reality; I know multiple women personally who have been raped, and it breaks my heart. We desire to respond in love to pregnancies that are due to rape,” McCarty said. “Those women who suffer in this way need all of our support and love to help them through a difficult pregnancy. In the end, two wrongs don’t make a right, and we should be encouraging women who heroically bring forth a child despite the circumstances of conception.”
In response to the vandalism, McCarty was proud of the effort her fellow Mustangs for Life members put in to restore it.
“We responded peacefully and quickly. We had around 10 people helping us set up crosses last night for two hours only to have it kicked over and disrespected an hour later. However, at 6 a.m. this morning, I was inspired to see 30 people come to help us put it back up.
McCarty also has a message to those who vandalized and those who threaten further vandalism: “I respond only in love. I am sorry you are filled with such hate and pain. Please know that we forgive you for your actions.”
“Memorial of Innocents” will be on display until April 20 at 9 p.m.