On Sunday night, ten students at the College of William and Mary spent their evening setting up a pro-life display in an outdoor area at the undergraduate campus, meant to mark Monday as the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. But by Monday morning, the display had been ruined, torn down overnight by unknown vandals.
The display consisted of 3,000 popsicle sticks pushed into the ground, to represent the approximately 2,500 abortions that have taken place each day in the U.S. since January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court granted women the constitutional right to an abortion.
Around the popsicle sticks, the students had placed four signs, one of which explained the purpose and meaning of the display. Another sign said “Love Them Both,” referring to the unborn child and its mother, and a third referenced this year’s March for Life theme: “Love Saves Lives.” The final poster said, “A woman should have rights over her body from the moment she exists.”
“We found most of the signs torn up in the closest trash can,” Katherine Beck, the display’s organizer, tells National Review. Almost all of the popsicle sticks were completely gone. “There were a couple on the ground and one broken in half, but other than that they were gone,” she adds.
Beck – who serves as president of Advocates for Life, a pro-life student group at William & Mary Law School — says the group has about 20 people on its roster, eight of whom helped set up the display. The display was approved in advance by the college administration, and Beck says that, both before and after the vandalism, school officials have been supportive of the group’s right to express its controversial viewpoint on abortion.
After discovering the destruction, the group informed the assistant dean at the law school, who directed them to call campus police. The police came out right away and have since reviewed videotape footage of the vandalism. They are still in the process of determining who was responsible.
To Beck’s knowledge, this was the first pro-life display ever erected on campus; the school has referred to the vandalism as “uncharted territory.”
Beck says that she led an event yesterday where law-school students discussed their belief that the pro-life viewpoint is compatible with authentic feminism. “There was certainly a respectful discourse going on there,” she says, “but I have heard that the undergrad campus is incredibly aggressive, and that would make sense why the display was torn down.” The display had been set up in an area of the undergraduate William & Mary campus called the Sunken Gardens.
There is also an undergraduate pro-life group, in addition to Advocates for Life, but its membership is slim. A few of its members helped put together this display. The group is now planning to put up an even larger pro-life display, and the administration is assisting them in that process.
The pro-life display on the evening of January 21. Photo by Katherine Beck.