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Graphic pro-life display at Boise State puts free speech to the test

Posted: 10:39 PM, Sep 27, 2017
Updated: 2017-09-28 00:39:57-04

One day after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized Boise State University's free speech policies, a group of pro-life activists is putting the university's free speech tolerance to the test.
"If abortion is an okay thing, or even a good thing, why is seeing a picture of it creating a negative reaction?" asked Maggie Egger, with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

A large pro-life display with graphic images of aborted fetuses next to photos from the Holocaust and police shootings was displayed right in the middle of campus. The pictures upsetting both pro-life and pro-choice students. 

"While we are against abortion, we don't believe graphic images are the best to present our protest to it," said Hannah Lopke, president of the Boise State Pro-Life Student Group.

"People have the right to their opinions and free speech, but I feel this display is over the top," said Boise State student Nicole Hannah, who was protesting the display.

Some students signed a petition asking the dean of students to not allow the display to come back. But event organizers say that would tread on their first amendment rights.

"If that's not content discrimination, I don't know what is. He's literally saying graphic pictures of abortion can't come back on campus, which would never happen as long as the first amendment is the law of the land," said Egger.

On hand to explain to students why BSU allows such displays, the dean of students was peppered with questions.

"We're providing them a notice to their rights under the constitution and encouraging them to do things in their best interest, whether that is seeking help and guidance or other forms of peaceful protests," said Boise State Dean of Students Dr. Chris Wuthrich.

The dean says the group behind the display is exercising their first amendment rights but counseling is available for students who feel uneasy about the display.