Faculty forms reproductive rights group, produce protest

A handful of protestors stood outside the room where Northern Kentucky University faculty members held a formative Educators For Reproductive Freedom (EFRF) meeting Feb. 24.

According to its founders, EFRF is forming to promote interest in reproductive rights.

Among the protestors was sophomore Bridgette Donnelly with her 16-month-old daughter. Donnelly said she had changed her plans to go away to college so she could give birth to her baby, Quinn.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I chose life,” Donnelly said. “It’s something I wouldn’t have changed for minute. I couldn’t imagine life without her.”

Donnelly said she is attending NKU so that she can be close to supportive family members and friends. She said she is planning to eventually become a lawyer.

“I might not get to do everything I want all the time, but I love living for another human being,” she said.

Quinn held a sign that read, “Former fetus against abortion.”

Another protestor’s sign read, “Reproductive freedom’ murders 4,000 children per day.”

Also protesting was Sharlotte Neely, an NKU anthropology professor and Donnelly’s mother.

“I’m here to support my daughter because my values are the same as hers,” Neely said. “We want to revive a 1970s pro-life club that used to be at NKU. If the university is a place where all points of view are represented, it’s really important to start a pro-life group now.”

Although some members of EFRF agreed to speak with The Northerner, the meeting itself was clandestine.

When The Northerner asked if a reporter could attend the meeting, Director of First-Year Programs Vicki Stieha said, “Absolutely not. It’s a closed meeting.”

Jennifer Woods from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky attended the faculty meeting and, according to an e-mail sent to EFRF members, spoke on the difficulty of obtaining emergency contraceptives in Kentucky.

Some of the meeting members were annoyed by the protestors. Paul Ellis, Learning Assistance Center Director, threw some pro-life pamphlets that were handed to him on the floor.

“Their propaganda is always full of untruths,” Woods said.

However, Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences Janis Cassiere commended the protestors when she passed them in the hallway.

“As many educators as there are for reproductive rights, there are just as many for the rights of all human life,” Cassiere said. “I think that now some faculty are forming this kind of group, there are going to be plenty of people that will resist their efforts. This could be something that will politicize the campus and cause students to be very selective with professors.”

Philosophy professor Nancy Hancock, one of EFRF’s founders, said previous to the meeting that the group is worried things may be going “backwards.” As an example she mentioned the bill recently passed by South Dakota’s Senate that would ban abortion in all cases except when the mother’s life is in danger.

Hancock said that through EFRF, she and her colleagues plan to build a campus network of faculty and staff interested in promoting reproductive rights and supporting student groups with an interest in the issue.