The pro-life Lucy campaign, organized by the student group Choose Life At Yale, has sparked controversy among students who support and oppose abortion because of its provocative posters, raising questions over the limits of freedom of expression.
Now in its fourth week, the nine-month long campaign involves a series of posters outlining the development of an imaginary baby named Lucy during her mother’s pregnancy. The campaign will culminate with a baby shower for Lucy’s birth to raise donations for a crisis pregnancy center. Since the campaign began, some posters have disappeared from bulletin boards across campus. CLAY president Debbie Bedolla ’07 said she has heard that some students have reacted to the campaign by tearing posters down.
Although she said she disagrees with CLAY’s message, Rachel Criswell ’07, a member of the Reproductive Rights Action League at Yale, said she thinks CLAY’s members have the right to voice their opinion and is opposed to the tearing down of posters.
“I do think this campaign is misleading, but CLAY is justified in putting up its posters, I feel like tearing down posters is a disrespectful form of disagreement,” she said.
Yale College regulations state that free expression takes precedence over any offence the messages may cause to some students.
Elissa Berwick ’09 said she has been expressing her disagreement with the campaign’s message by writing on the Lucy posters she has encountered.
“They have their right to their opinion and they express it by posting their signs, but I can express my opinion right back by writing on them,” Berwick said.
Nick Seaver ’07, who is president of the Yale American Civil Liberties Union, said he thinks the campaign is misleading and that it is wrong to label a four week-old fetus a child.
“At four weeks it is a fetus,” he said. “I think this campaign is misleading because a fetus is not a child and they are trying to hamper a woman’s right to choose.”
Bedolla said she believes that life starts at conception, and whether four-week old Lucy is called a child or fetus does not change the fact that she is a live human being.
“It is scientific fact that life starts at conception,” she said. “When you see an abortion on a TV screen, you see that something has died.”
Despite triggering debate among student groups on both sides of the abortion debate, the Lucy campaign has not yet reached a wider audience, Clairelise Rodriguez ’08 said.
“It is the first time I’m hearing of it, and I haven’t come across anyone who has,” Rodriguez said.
Students who have seen the posters expressed mixed reactions.
Leah Franqui ’09 said the campaign failed to change her opinion on the issue as it does not address the mother’s well-being.
“I find it completely unappealing and immediately write it off as sensationalist propaganda,” Franqui said. “As someone who is pro-choice, my focus is always on the mother and this series of posters is not the way to sway me to be pro-life.”
But Alexander Dominitz ’09 said he thinks the campaign is effective in conveying its message to students.
“Though I am pro-choice, I think it is a very wise campaign,” Dominitz said. “They are trying to change the status quo and are using whatever means are at their disposal.”
Bedolla said she hopes the Lucy campaign will encourage discourse about the issue on campus.