More than a dozen male representatives from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property took to the Diag on Wednesday to oppose abortion rights, inciting responses from several bystanders.
Members of TFP distributed anti-abortion material to passersby. The pamphlets listed “10 Reasons to Protect the Unborn,” claiming that “Abortion Offends God,” and calling the practice “Our Deadliest War.”
John Ritchie, TFP’s student action director and one of the speakers at the Diag protest, told The Daily the organization stands up for conservative values by protesting abortion on college campuses around the country.
“Today we are here promoting the right to life – every human being has a right to life, whether they are born or not,” Ritchie said. “… We are just visiting the state of Michigan going from campus to campus promoting and defending the right to life.”
According to Ritchie, the organization has about 200,000 members across the nation.
In response to the anti-abortion demonstrators, multiple students gathered in the Diag to protest the anti-abortion stance. LSA senior Tiahna Pantovich held a sign that read, “Get out of my womb.” She said she was determined to make an impression on TFP representatives.
“I’m going to keep screaming until you get annoyed with (my) voice,” Pantovich yelled at the TFP representatives. “Eventually, you’re going to get annoyed, and you’re going to say, ‘I can’t stand listening to this woman,’ and then you’re going to dip out.”
Speaking to The Daily, Pantovich articulated her frustration at the lack of women present from the organization and explained she was disappointed with the group’s view on abortion.
“These are all men, they are not taking the opinions of women or their input,” Pantovich said. “You can come and say ‘I disagree with abortion,’ but when you say it’s a sin, and I’m a bad person for doing what’s best for my life, that doesn’t make sense and that’s not allowed. I am going to let them know that I am not okay with that. The best thing about this campus is the fact that it’s a public campus and I can scream as long as I want to. It’s my freedom of speech.”
Ritchie told The Daily while there are women members of TFP, the majority are male.
“A lot of out membership is women, but our core group is a men’s group,” Ritchie said.
The protest garnered attention from students walking by, several of whom stopped to engage in conversation with members of TFP. LSA senior Ben Freund told The Daily he was disappointed by what he saw as the unwillingness of the TFP representatives to engage in discussion.
“My friend and I talked with a couple of people around the Diag and they say they are here for a dialogue,” Freund said. “It’s clear that a dialogue assumes two people are willing to not only say their piece but also listen to what other people have to say. They’re not here to listen to what other people have to say.”
Freund said he saw the group’s moral argument as biased given the fact that there were no female representatives from TFP present.
“We were talking about moral high ground… and how they selectively apply a moral high ground to problems that don’t even affect them – you see it’s all men on this Diag,” Freund said. “For them to have a moral high-ground opinion on this issue doesn’t seem right to me.”