As students walked down Locust Walk Friday in the early December sun, they passed 600 flags planted on College Green, each representing an abortion that took place in the last two weeks in Philadelphia.
The protest is sponsored by Quakers for Life, one of Penn’s newest student groups. According to the group’s Facebook page, Quakers for Life is “committed to creating a community of pro-life students who all share the common goal of protecting human life.”
Wharton sophomore Eric Hoover, who founded the group this semester , said the group’s primary objective is raising awareness.
“We want to start a discussion on the issue,” he said. “We think it’s a gross human rights violation and we want to get people talking about it, talking about human equality, talking about the science of when life begins.”
The protest received moderate pushback. Locust Walk chalk writings read “Anti-Choice, Anti-Women” and “Every flag represents a woman who got safe + legal care. You are brave.”
A few students quietly counter-protested. Maria Ryan, a graduate student studying music, held a sign that said, “Trust women and their choices. Defend and protect safe access to abortion.”
Ryan spoke frankly about her motivations.
“It’s very simple. I don’t want women at Penn to feel shamed for having abortions,” she said.
Graduate student Veronica Brownstone joined Ryan in protest.
“I don’t really understand why we have a couple of white guys in slacks telling us what women should doing with their bodies,” she said. “It’s a pretty precarious time to be saying that kind of statement.”
Hoover was unfazed by the pushback.
“I’m glad that we’re at a University that let’s us do this,” he said. “I think that the University is protecting free speech here [and] I definitely approve of that. I hope it continues that way...I don’t have any reason to believe that it won’t.”
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