By requiring cigarette manufacturers to place more graphic, hardhitting warning labels on cigarette packages, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tacitly agreeing with prolife groups that people will change their minds and their behavior if they can see graphic representations or pictures of how their actions to smoke (or have an abortion) harm others. Two of the proposed FDA labels say ”WARNING: Smoking during pregnancy can harm your baby.” Another one says, “WARNING: Tobacco smoke can harm your children.”
This is similar to the tactics used by prolife groups such as Justice for All and the Genocide Awareness Project . Both groups set up on college campuses displays that show that abortion kills unborn children. Now, I admit that the photos of aborted children are more jarring than the graphic depictions of the harms of smoking that the FDA wants to put on cigarette packages. But both point in the same direction: The pictures better communicate the moral dimension of how the acts of smoking or abortion harm children.
That is why some universities have tried to suppress the prolife displays on campus, because the photos puncture the liberal illusion that abortion is merely about “personal choice” with no victims. Rather than resorting to bare-knuckle censorship of these prolife displays, university officials frequently order them moved to a distant, out of the way part of campus where few students go.
ADF has litigated a number of these cases. David French argued one of these cases, called Rock for Life v. Hrabowski, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last September, involving a display of the Genocide Awareness Project and how it was forced into exile at the “Outer Mongolia” end of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. ADF has also dramatized these disputes that prolife students have with university officials in its Hannah’s Video Blog.
We hope universities will respect the First Amendment rights of the prolife groups to communicate the real harm of abortion. Because if smoking during pregnancy can harm children, and secondhand smoke can harm children, how much more so does abortion harm children.
This post originally appeared here.