Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Right to Life, Right to Free Speech
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the First Amendment rights of pro-lifers trump the right of students to an uninterrupted education. The ruling was in response to a 2003 case, in which pro-lifers from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform circled a California middle school in a truck emblazoned with graphic images of ‘aborted’ fetuses. Though the truck caused significant disruption to the school day, provoking tears and violence among students, the judges stated that "[t]he government cannot silence messages simply because they cause discomfort, fear or even anger". Constitutionally, the right to free speech is extremely important, as is an undisrupted school environment. However, according to the Appeals Court judges, the right to disturbing, disruptive “speech” is more important than the safety and education of children.
The Center’s executive director justified the “free speech” by claiming that “students who are old enough to have an abortion are old enough to see an abortion.” That’s ironic, considering that the same people who are rabidly anti-abortion also oppose comprehensive sex education in middle and high schools. Affordable birth control, scientifically accurate information, and honesty repeatedly prove to be a lot more effective in reducing teen pregnancy than lies, manipulation, and misinformation. If pro-lifers really want to prevent abortions, then they should lobby for honest, effective education that teaches pregnancy prevention to the kids that they target.