An Open Letter in response to PSU Pro-Life ‘Abortion is Genocide’ display

On Oct. 12 a group of students distributed an open letter after a student display case in SMSU featured a sign stating ‘Abortion is Genocide’.

The full letter read as follows:

“Dear Portland State community,

I hope you are well when you receive this correspondence. On October 10th, 2017 the Portland State University Pro-Life student group posted a sign stating “ABORTION IS GENOCIDE” in the first floor of the Smith Memorial Student Union. As students, we are asking for acknowledgement that the word ‘genocide’ is triggering, oppressive, and inappropriate. Many feel that this statement is hurtful and offensive to individuals who do decide to go through this difficult medical procedure. We believe that the sign created by this student group, and endorsed by The Office of Student Activities and Leadership Programs creates a sense of shame and pain for our diverse community of learners. It is not our intention to prevent this student group from exercising their right to freedom of speech, however we demand that leaders and administration alike reconsider how their language is problematic, and creates an unsafe environment for students of a multitude of identities, of which include: mothers, survivors, immigrant groups, veterans, and people who have utilized reproductive services in the past. As one student beautifully put, “Using the word “genocide” describes your inability to have compassion for basic human rights and is disrespectful and insensitive to actual victims of genocide.

This following Monday October the 16th, many Portland State students are anticipating that the Pro-Life group will be displaying inappropriate propaganda throughout campus that will include visceral and graphic images as part of their initiatives. We strongly feel that these images are not appropriate to display to the public, especially on a campus where almost one fourth of the student body identify as students with children and utilize PSU Childcare Services. Currently, this issue is happening in other campuses around the nation, with the most recent incident in the city of Eugene, Oregon where the students of Lane Community College have undergone similar traumatic experiences.

Many students, offended and angered by this display, have begun to take action and are finding ways to organize and take it down. We look forward to engaging in conversation with other members of Portland State, and we thank you in advance for your support and allyship to the student voices of PSU.

We ask that Resource centers on campus to come together as a community to hold space for students who made need your support.

For your convenience, we have provided in the link below, ways to support community members currently experiencing actual violence of genocide. Thank you again, we value your commitment to upholding the values of Portland State University.

Unidos por Puerto Rico (spearheaded by the First Lady of Puerto Rico.)

Students that support this message.
(This letter was created by members from various PSU communities, but does not speak for all the voices of this university.)”