In response to a return visit by anti-abortion demonstrators, Pomona College students organized a peaceful counter-demonstration Dec. 11. Student volunteers, with the support of the Claremont University Consortium's Health Education Outreach center and the Pomona College Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault, collected more than $500 in donations for Planned Parenthood and distributed free condoms and educational materials.
At 10 a.m., representatives from the anti-abortion group Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust set up a display for the second day in a row on the southwest corner of Sixth Street and College Way, erecting large placards that exhibited explicit photographs of aborted fetuses. The student group set up their table at 11 a.m. on the southeast corner of the same intersection.
“We’re just trying to provide the other side of the story,” said Amy Ragsdale PO ’15, who coordinated student volunteers overnight through a Facebook event titled “Students for Prevention, Choice, and Women's Health.”
“There’s a lot of resources on campus that we have already, and a lot of great programs that are there for students and young adults, so we just wanted to raise awareness of those,” she added.
Ragsdale said that the response to the students’ counter-demonstration was strongly supportive. By 2 p.m., when both groups departed, the students had collected $548 in cash and Claremont Cash to donate to Planned Parenthood.
Mary Rose, a representative for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, said that student reactions to her group’s displays had been similar to the previous day. She said that she was glad the students set up their counter-demonstration nearby.
“I think it’s great,” Rose said. “The contrast, I think, is really good.”
Rose and her colleagues also put up a second display at the corner of Sixth Street and College Avenue, but representative Lauren Brice said that the more central location on College Way generated more conversation.
The atmosphere remained calm throughout the demonstrations.
“I am pleasantly surprised by the level of rational discourse this has brought to the Claremont colleges, and impressed by the fact that something begun so irrationally, with these pictures, has led to a pretty level-headed discussion,” Kevin Tidmarsh PO ’16 said.
According to Rose, her group has no plans to return to Pomona in the immediate future but intends to return eventually.
“I hope that if they come back, people will remember this response and emulate this example,” Garrick Monaghan PO ’14 said. “We’ve already raised a significant amount of money, and we’ve been a visible opposition so that it’s clear that they’re not the only voice around here.”