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LIFE DIGEST: Univ. Prof leads students to destroy pro-life display; governors veto pro- and con- abortion-related bills

WASHINGTON (BP)–Freedom of speech to at least one college professor means the ability to destroy someone else’s right of expression, especially if it communicates a pro-life message.

Sally Jacobsen, an English professor at Northern Kentucky University, reportedly led her students April 12 in removing and throwing in the trash 400 crosses that made up a pro-life display titled the “Cemetery of the Innocents.” A sign for the display also has not been found, The Cincinnati (Ohio) Enquirer reported.

Jacobson acknowledged she invited students during a break in a British literature class to destroy the display, according to The Enquirer. She asked “if any students wanted to participate in practicing their freedom of speech in destroying the very offensive right-to-life, anti-abortion display in the central plaza” of the university, the newspaper reported. About 10 students participated in the vandalism, witnesses told The Enquirer.

Jacobsen declined to say if she took part, but a photo in the Internet edition of the school’s newspaper April 13 appeared to show her destroying the display’s sign, while small, white crosses lay on the ground around her, according to The Enquirer.

Each of the 400 crosses represented 10 abortions that take place each day in the United States. A newly instituted pro-life organization on campus had set up the display for a week with the school’s permission, the newspaper reported. The 15-member organization reconstructed the display shortly after the crosses were recovered.

“It really shocked me, because of course we’re pro-life, but we try to respect other people’s opinions and people who are pro-choice,” said Lauren Macke, a member of the organization that set up the pro-life display.

Campus police are still continuing their investigation, The Enquirer reported April 15, but the NKU administration was not impressed by Jacobsen’s assertion of her so-called rights.

NKU President Jim Votruba said Jacobsen’s contention that the destructive behavior constituted freedom of speech was a “ludicrous comment.”

“In my mind, this is a serious violation of a faculty member’s responsibilities and undermines what a university is established to do,” Votruba said, according to The Enquirer. “If people are occasionally offended by points of view on a campus, that’s what a university is all about. We’re a place where ideas get vetted.”

Discipline for Jacobsen may be limited, since she is scheduled to retire in a matter of weeks, the newspaper reported.

NKU, which has about 14,000 students, is located in Highland Heights, Ky., seven miles south of Cincinnati.

VETO POWER –- Governors of two Western states recently vetoed abortion-related bills, one supported by pro-life advocates and the other opposed by them.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed April 11 legislation that would require an abortion provider to inform a woman who is at least 20 weeks pregnant of the scientific evidence of the pain an unborn child experiences during the procedure. If the woman still decides to have an abortion, the doctor would have to offer anesthesia for the unborn baby in an attempt to reduce the baby’s pain.

On April 13, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens vetoed a bill that would have permitted non-prescription sales of the “morning-after pill,” which has abortion-causing properties. The legislation also would have allowed underage girls to purchase the drug without parental notification.

In her veto message, Napolitano, a Democrat, said the fetal pain measure is “an unwarranted intrusion by politicians into the doctor-patient relationship.”

Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council said in a letter to Napolitano, “It is unconscionable to allow women to undergo an abortion without making them aware of the latest scientific evidence regarding fetal pain. It is disappointing your administration would hide the facts of abortion and keep women uninformed prior to making such a life-changing decision.”

It appears unlikely the Arizona legislature would be able to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. The House of Representatives approved the bill in a 36-21 vote, but the Senate passed it by only a 17-13 margin.

Similar measures are being promoted in Congress. The Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, S. 51 and H.R. 356, has 34 cosponsors in the Senate and 140 in the House.

In vetoing the “emergency contraceptive” bill, Owens, a Republican, said the proposal “strays radically from the accepted norms of medicine and is not in the best interests of Coloradans.”

Two “morning-after” pills, Plan B and Preven, have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for prescription sale. The FDA is considering whether to permit over-the-counter sale of Plan B without a prescription to women 16 years of age and older.

Plan B, as well as Preven, is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills. Under the regimen, a woman takes two pills within 72 hours of sexual intercourse and another dose 12 hours later. The “morning-after” pill not only works to restrict ovulation in a woman, but it can act after conception, thereby causing an abortion, pro-lifers point out. The method can block implantation of a tiny embryo in the uterine wall.

RU 486 CLEARED IN DEATH –- RU 486 was not to blame for the recent death of an American woman who had used the abortion drug, according to a Food and Drug Administration report.

The unidentified woman, one of two whose deaths were reported in March after use of the pill, did not die from RU 486 or the abortion, the FDA said April 10, according to AP. The other woman, however, had signs of an infection.

At least six women’s deaths in the United States appear to have been related to use of the two-step drug regimen since RU 486 went on the market in September 2000. The FDA announced in July 2005 four California women who underwent chemical abortions had died from an uncommon and lethal bacterial infection known as Clostridium sordellii. The FDA is helping convene a workshop May 11 in Atlanta for the purpose of drafting an agenda for research on the infection.

Congressional critics of RU 486 continue to call for strong action on sale of the drug. On April 10, 47 members of the House of Representatives wrote Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio to ask him to schedule action on the chamber’s floor regarding the RU 486 Suspension and Review Act, H.R. 1079.

The representatives said, “An immediate vote on [the bill] would put the House of Representatives firmly on record as dedicated to preserving the lives and well-being of all women and to holding the FDA accountable for the manner in which it approves pharmaceutical products.”

The legislation would suspend the drug’s sale while a review of the FDA’s approval of the pill is conducted. A companion bill in the Senate is S. 511. The proposal has 81 cosponsors in the House but only 11 in the Senate.

RU 486, also known as mifepristone, is used as the first part of a process normally occurring in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Mifepristone causes the lining of the uterus to release the embryonic child. A second drug, misoprostol, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the baby.

The FDA’s approved regimen calls for taking both doses orally, but at least some abortion doctors have used misoprostol vaginally. All four women who tested positive for Clostridium sordellii after their deaths had been given stronger doses of misoprostol vaginally.