On Monday at 12:30 pm, Peter Paluszak ‘23 stood on the library steps holding pro-life signs. At the demonstration, which was pre-approved by Student Life, Paluszak stood in silence while other students and Dr. Aaron Zubia, a Politics and International Affairs professor, periodically joined him.
According to Jason Cassidy, Associate Vice President for Student Life, Paluszak's demonstration “followed use of University Space Protocols found in the Student Handbook.”
Paluszak said that his goal for the protest was to recognize the National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn and “to speak out against abortion as both a practice and an idea.” He also noted that he advocates for support of children and pregnant mothers.
In the early afternoon, pro-choice counter protestors arrived. FUPD Chief John Milby said, “We recognized that there would be counter demonstration upon his arrival, and we want to be flexible with them as well. We provided grass-space for the counter demonstration, and they complied as well and we’re grateful for that.” Multiple FUPD officers were present at the protest.
Counter protestors carried a range of signs with statements including “over 800 women die every day giving birth” and “Abortion Rights Human Rights.” Counter protest chants included “F U,” “They say no choice, we say pro-choice,” and “Not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate.”
Regarding the pro-choice demonstrators, Paluszak said, “Some counter protestors were polite and open to civil discourse, which was much appreciated. Thank you. Some were not.”
John Roper, a senior who participated in the counter protest said, “[pro-life viewpoint] is a dangerous viewpoint to have. It’s damaging to women, it’s putting people at risk. Abortion is a form of healthcare.” Camille Harknett ‘23, said "I don't think we are going to change anybody's mind who is pro-life, especially not the two who are up there protesting."
A spectator at the protest named Brody Larimore ‘25 said, “I don’t think anything is getting done on either side with this. Let’s sit down and chat. Let's hash it out.” When asked his stance on abortion, Larimore said, “what I’m interested in is helping these ladies.”
The protest concluded in the afternoon. Cassidy said he appreciated “students making their voices heard and being cooperative with the policies.”
Reporting contributed by Nath Kapoor.