Pro-Life Group Demonstrates Between CMC and Pitzer, Starts Conversations

A pro-life,
pro-choice face-off took place Tuesday, April 15 on Ninth Street when representatives of Survivors
of the Abortion Holocaust visited the Claremont Colleges for the second time this school year. Two pro-choice representatives installed themselves across
the street from the demonstration in an attempt to present students with both sides of the

California-based nonprofit organization Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust is a pro-life advocacy group that staged a demonstration with many graphic images at Pomona College on Dec.
10, 2013. 

On Tuesday, Survivors representatives set up two demonstrations, which included graphic posters of aborted fetuses, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.—one on Ninth Street between Pitzer College and Claremont McKenna College, and one on Mills Avenue.

The Choice USA chapter at Scripps College and Jenna
Archer PO ’15, a former member of the Pomona Women’s Union (WU) and
an intern at the Feminist Majority Foundation, both made appearances at the demonstration site. They displayed trigger warning signs near the Survivors demonstration to warn students about the graphic content of the displays.

“As much as
we would like people to engage in a positive way with us, the imagery they are using can be very triggering and, obviously, if it’s going to be
upsetting for someone, we want them to be able to avoid it,” Archer said.

Survivors representatives said that they had the same goal for their visit to Pitzer this week as for their visit to Pomona last December. 

“We’re just
here to educate and inform people, and to give them more information about
abortion,” demonstrator Emily Labarthe said. “They can just grab a pamphlet and have their questions answered, or
they can do their own online research.”

Katie Echavia CM ’15 questioned the reliability of the information contained in the organization’s pamphlets. 

“It actually
made my [pro-choice] opinion slightly stronger simply because what they’re doing is
presenting me with what they’re calling facts, but they’re not being backed up
by any kind of reputable source,” she said.

Manikowski SC ’16, the on-campus coordinator of Choice USA, stationed herself
near one of the Survivors’ displays with a poster that read “Trust Women.” She
said her goal was to give students warning of the Survivors’
graphic displays.

“I think that
it’s necessary to have the other voice because if you are on a campus with
giant posters of fetuses … it’s necessary to have a voice
saying, “You don’t have to stop and listen,'” she said. “You don’t have to do anything you
don’t want, because that’s the root of this issue is consent.”

Choice USA and Archer, with
help from the WU, set up their counter-demonstrations with
information on birth control, sexual assault, and feminist
organizations on campus. From across the street, Archer noted that the Survivors demonstrators really didn’t pick a high-traffic

The organization was limited to specific locations for their demonstrations because they are not
affiliated with the Claremont Colleges. The sidewalks on Ninth Street and Mills
Avenue are public property, so the group was not violating any college rules by setting up there.

Hammack, a Ph.D. candidate at Claremont Graduate University, said he was glad
Pitzer allowed people to come near the campus and express their ideas.

“I think
everybody is open to have whatever demonstration they would like and that’s
what I support,” he said.

Upon engaging
with the Survivors demonstrators, Hammack said that the discussion challenged both him and the demonstrator he spoke with to “go back and reassert our own

Hershberger CM ’14 also spoke with Mary Rose, assistant director of campus outreach
for Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, about topics including the concept of a “person” as applied to an unborn child.

“It informed
me to more of other people’s opinions,” she said. “It’s a good thing to do, to understand a
little bit more about everybody’s side.”

Archer said that abortion is a complex and polarizing topic that makes it difficult to create
respectful dialogues, especially with a group as “extreme” as the Survivors. 

“As much as
we want to strongly counter their message with a very strong pro-choice
message, we also definitely want to open up a dialogue on the campuses that
creates space for a broad range of feelings and thoughts about abortion,” she said. 

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