Anti-abortion activists target high schools
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Area high schools likely will be battlefields in the war over abortion rights this year.
In response to a recent state Supreme Court ruling that teen-agers don't need parental consent to get an abortion, members of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue will visit local high school campuses in September to distribute literature, complete with pictures, describing the hazards of abortions.
The tactic is likely to set off legal battles. Some local school officials, including the principal of Irvington High School in Fremont, said they would deny the group access to campuses.
But Operation Rescue leaders plan to hire 150 lawyers to sue school districts that deny them access and press for what they see as their First Amendment rights.
Operation Rescue plans to send people to schools throughout the West. Officials said they will start in September with a few select areas -- including San Mateo, Orange and San Diego counties -- where they say lawmakers have often favored abortion rights.
The move was motivated by Tuesday's [8/5/97] Supreme Court decision overturning a law, never enforced because of legal challenges, that required girls under 18 to ask their parents for permission before getting an abortion.
"If they're going to keep parents in the dark we feel doubly motivated to get the facts out there," said Jeff White, state director of the nonprofit Operation Rescue. Every school in the state will have members handing out leaflets. They will provide truthful, factual accounts about what happens when you get an abortion."
In the past, Operation Rescue activists have protested at some high schools off the campus grounds.
This year they plan to set up their 6-foot-high posters of aborted fetuses at the stret, but enter the schools to hand out anti-abortion literature with graphic photos.
Permission battle brewing
The first battle for Operation Rescue will be getting into the schools.
Many high schools have policies requiring visitors to get permission from school principals before visiting the campus.
But White said he plans to send his [sic] troops to schools even if he isn't granted permission.
The state Department of Education said groups can be denied access to campuses only if there's indication the group will disrupt education.
White said Operation Rescue's effort will not do that.
"Just because we're expressing an unpopular opinion, that doesn't mean we're creating a disturbance," he said. "The fact that they're already saying we can't come there shows they are biased from the get-go."
Once on campus, White said, his groups will distribute fact sheets describing the medical hazards of having an abortion, along with pictures.
He said the volunteers will also talk to students about alternatives to abortion.
Mixed reactions from students
Some students agreeds with White, arguing that people passing out flyers would not distract them.
"I wouldn't really care. I would be just like 'OK.' I would just read it and then throw it away," said Enrique Lopez, an incoming freshman at Newark Memorial High School.
But not everyone felt the same way.
"If there was someone here the kids didn't know, they would be leaning out of classrooms, wondering who that adult is," said Irvington High School Principal Pete Murchison.
"In this case, knowing the topic, once the kids read the literature, you can be sure that would disrupt classes," he said. "I would say to (Operation Rescue) 'You really don't understand how schools operate. It would almost make me think they don't have teen-agers."
Article date: Friday, August 8, 1997. The Argus.
The principal at Irvington High is right. People discuss hot topics in classes, at to the extent that everybody's fired up about something, it can cause class disruptions. I should know--in my first period math class we discussed everything from homosexuality and music to M&Ms and O. J.
Oh well... maybe "Operation Rescue" will find "alternative" ways to handle their public outreach education. However, this is problematic: no matter what they do, people don't have religious-like sensibilities anymore. Ours is supposedly an age of negativity --or so it is made via media--and peope need to have "news fasts." However, the actual name for "news fast" is "vacation." Someday, people like you may come to their senses at fundamental and more youthful levels: starting with Conscience. If deep within the quiet self we find all the answers to the Universe (and you can) then this is what needs to be done. Most live noise-filled lives with a perpetually turned-on TV so that they never contemplate the important issues. But you can :-)