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SMC senior holds personal protest

Liz Harter | Thursday, December 6, 2007

One Saint Mary’s senior spent four hours sitting on the library green Wednesday, gathering signatures to support a reversal of the federal ban on partial-birth abortions as part of a personal protest.

Erin Brady, a student in Professor Amanda Littauer’s women’s studies course, spent the afternoon “cold and alone” to show her solidarity for women who feel that their only choice is to have a child due to federal bans on partial-birth abortions.

“There are thousands of women who feel as though they have no choice either due to financial reasons, or lack of resources,” Brady said. “Eighty percent of communities in the United States do not have abortion facilities.”

While the signature gathering is part of her “activism in action” assignment for Littauer’s course, Brady said it is also a “personal protest.”

“Obviously Saint Mary’s is Catholic,” Brady said.

She discussed the College’s Right to Life Club’s prominent events on campus, like its display of white crosses on the library green each fall during Respect Life Week to represent the number of abortions in the United States.

“For three years [during my time here], there have been the little, baby crosses and pro-life protests with no voice from the other side,” she said. “It’s important to represent the other side of this debate.”

Brady gathered signatures for the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) from professors and students during her time on the green.

FOCA is an act that “will secure the right to choose by establishing a federal law that will guarantee reproductive freedom for future generations of American women” according to fliers Brady passed out to students. It works to reverse the ban on partial-birth abortions.

“I’ve had mixed criticism,” Brady said of her protest spot in a high traffic area on campus. “It’s been a divided audience.”

While no one openly criticized her display, she said that she noticed some student quietly commenting negatively to their friends as they passed. But many students, Brady said, seemed to either disregard her totally or to support her.

“I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback,” Brady said. “I had some girls bring me hot chocolate because they said I looked so cold.”

Brady began to take down her protest around 5 p.m. when student traffic tapered off. But she said she may organize something else to support reproductive rights in the future.

“[Students] have asked why I didn’t advertise that I was doing this because they would have joined,” she said. “This was a personal protest, but maybe next time it will be more organized and will have more people because this is an issue that affects women directly.”